UN INVITES IRAN TO GENEVA 2, SYRIAN OPPOSITION THREATENS BOYCOTT
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has invited Iran to attend the Geneva 2 peace conference on Syria, which is due to begin Wednesday. Tehran has accepted the invitation but without any pre-conditions, Xinhua reports.
Ban Ki-moon’s announcement led Syria’s main opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition, to threaten a conference boycott, France24 reports. The National Coalition had only confirmed its presence at Geneva on Saturday, after suggesting initially that it would not attend.
Meanwhile, in an interview with AFP, President Bashar al-Assad dismissed the idea that opposition leaders could figure into a transition government as “a good joke.” Read why here.
SERIES OF BAGHDAD EXPLOSIONS KILL DOZENS
At least 24 people died and another 58 were injured in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad after it was hit by half a dozen explosions, Reuters reports.
YANUKOVYCH TO NEGOTIATE WITH PRO-EU OPPOSITION
Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych has agreed to negotiate with representatives of pro-EU protesters in Kiev and with opposition leaders after yesterday’s violent clashes in the capital, UPI reports. According to Interfax, more than 20 people have been arrested for their suspected involvement in the rioting, which left over 200 police officers and protesters injured. The White House suggested it could impose sanctions on Ukraine for using violence against the demonstrators, Ria Novosti reports.
For more on the subject, we offer this Le Monde/Worldcrunch piece: What Failure In Ukraine Reveals About European Weakness.
SUICIDE BOMB HITS NORTHERN PAKISTAN
A suicide bomber in the northern Pakistani city of Rawalpindi killed at least 14 people, including six soldiers, just one day after 20 soldiers died in another explosion, the BBC reports. The group Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan have claimed responsibility for the two attacks.
IRAN STARTS CURBING NUCLEAR PROGRAM
Tehran has started suspending its 20% uranium enrichment program as part of the six-month deal struck in November 2013, news agency IRNA quotes an official from the country’s Atomic Energy Organization as saying. The curb should be accompanied by the lifting of some sanctions by the European Union and the United States, allowing Iran to start exporting oil again.
CHINA ECONOMIC GROWTH LOSING PACE
The Chinese economy grew 7.7% in the last quarter of 2013 over the previous year, as expectations for 2014 suggest growth will reach its slowest pace since 1990,Financial Times reports.
BY THE NUMBERS
Global inequality is so extreme that the combined wealth of the 85 richest people is equal to what the poorest half of the world's population own put together, according to a new report from the development charity Oxfam.
A 3-year-old boy was killed in a Mafia vendetta act in Southern Italy before being torched in a car.
One of world’s leading conductors, Italian Claudio Abbado, has died at age 80.
MUSIC FOR (VINTAGE) GEEKS
If you’re a Star Wars fan who likes old tech, you’ll love this new version of “The expand=1] Imperial March,” made with floppy drives.