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Will Iran Be At Geneva 2?

Iranian officials have spent plenty of time recently in Geneva to negotiate a deal with the West on its nuclear program. The next pressing question is whether Iran will be back in the Swiss city for the so-called Geneva 2 conference to discuss ways to try to end to Syria's civil war.

Officials in Tehran stated Monday that they'd accepted the invitation to attend that had been extended by the UN Secretary-General. But doubts still linger in many Western capitals whether Iran should participate at the conference, given its support for the regime of President Bashar al-Asad whose three-year war against opponents has provoked thousands of civilian deaths.

Indeed, the Iranian Foreign Ministry has rejected several preconditions for attending. Western states want Iran to support a regime transition in Syria, while Reuters cited Syrian opponents as saying they would not attend if Iran did.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said Iran was "one of the first countries" to propose "dialogue and peaceful means" to help end the civil war, but "we had said before...we would not accept any precondition to our presence" at Geneva 2, the semi-official ISNA agency reported.

An editorial Monday in the reformist daily Arman said that war in Syria was symptomatic of the spread of "Salafist" terrorism across the Middle East that it says is aided by Saudi Arabia, Turkey and several conservative Middle Eastern states. Commentator Ali Khorram wrote that these states must "wake up" from the delusion that Al-Qaeda or similar groups would do their foreign-policy bidding. Iran, he wrote, must begin "some kind of coordination and cooperation" with Turkey and "the West" to "save Iraq, Syria and other unstable Arab states from the terrorists' control."

Parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani echoed the idea, describing the "policies of world powers in Iraq and Afghanistan and their response to the Syrian crisis" as having "paved the way for the spread of extremist movements" in the region, the official IRNA agency reported.

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Indigenous Women Of Ecuador Set Example For Sustainable Agriculture

In southern Ecuador, a women-led agricultural program offers valuable lessons on sustainable farming methods, but also how to end violence.

Photo of women walking in Ecuador

Women walking in Guangaje Ecuador

Camila Albuja

SARAGURO — Here in this corner of southern Ecuador, life seems to be like a mandala — everything is cleverly used in this ancestral system of circular production. But the women of Saraguro had to fight and resist to make their way of life, protecting the local water and the seeds. When weaving, the women share and take care of each other, also weaving a sense of community.

With the wrinkled tips of her fingers, Mercedes Quizhpe, an indigenous woman from the Kichwa Saraguro people, washes one by one the freshly harvested vegetables from her garden. Standing on a small bench, with her hands plunged into the strong torrent of icy water and the bone-chilling early morning breeze, she checks that each one of her vegetables is ready for fair day. Her actions hold a life of historical resistance, one that prioritizes the care of life through the defense of territory and food sovereignty.

Mercedes' way of life is also one that holds many potential lessons for how to do agriculture and tourism better.

In the province of Loja, work begins before sunrise. At 5:00 a.m., the barking of dogs, the guardians of each house, starts. There is that characteristic smell of damp earth from the morning dew. Sheep bah uninterruptedly through the day. With all this life around, the crowing of early-rising roosters doesn't sound so lonely.

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