Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Wednesday that his country's nuclear negotiators should not yield to pressure by the world powers in the ongoing nuclear talks,
"The negotiators should not accept any forceful rhetoric from the other side, and Iran-IAEA relations should be ordinary,"Khamenei was quoted as saying.
He implied that the Iranian negotiating team should not undertake any extra obligations vis-a-vis the UN nuclear watchdog.
"Iran will neither give up nor slow down nuclear research and development activities as it continues its nuclear talks with the world powers," he stressed.
Venezuela's government formally invited Vatican No. 2 Cardinal Pietro Parolin on Wednesday to mediate talks with the opposition in hopes of stemming violence that has killed dozens in the nation's worst unrest in a decade. In a letter, President Nicolas Maduro's government asked that Parolin, a former envoy to Venezuela who is now the Vatican's Secretary of State, be named a "good faith witness" to a dialogue finally agreed after two months of protests. A Vatican spokesman confirmed the Roman Catholic Church's willingness to mediate, but gave no more details. Venezuela's opposition coalition had indicated that current Vatican envoy, Aldo Giordano, would be attending the first formal talks, which are to start on Thursday in Caracas.
Pope Francis spoke of his deep grief over the assassination of a 75-year-old Jesuit priest in Syria on Wednesday and made a renewed appeal for an end to the violence. Frans van der Lugt had been living in Syria since the 1970s and had become widely known for his refusal to leave Christians who remained in the rebel-held city of Homs as it was blockaded by government forces. He was beaten and shot dead by unidentified gunmen at his monastery on Monday.