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News Wrap: Susan Rice urges Afghan President Karzai to sign security deal

November 25, 2013 at 12:00 AM EDT
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GWEN IFILL: European sanctions on Iran could be eased as early as next month. That word came today from French and European Union officials. It follows the weekend agreement to relax some sanctions in return for freezing much of Iran’s nuclear program. We will look at the details and the wider implications for the Middle East right after the news summary.

The U.S. national security adviser, Susan Rice, was in Kabul today, urging Afghan President Hamid Karzai to sign a security deal without delay. The agreement would govern any U.S. troops who stay to train Afghan units after NATO combat forces withdraw next year. Afghan elders endorsed the pact Sunday, but Karzai insisted he will leave it to his successor to sign after April’s elections.

A date and place for Syrian peace talks are finally set, Jan. 22 in Geneva. The United Nations announced it today. The talks will be the first between the Syrian government and opposition since the civil war there began nearly three years ago.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon urged both sides to lay the groundwork for peace.

BAN KI-MOON, United Nations Secretary-General: Even though the conference will take place in about eight weeks, all parties can and must begin now to take steps to help the Geneva conference succeed, including toward the cessation of violence, humanitarian access, release of detainees, and return of Syrian refugees and internally displaced people to their homes.

GWEN IFILL: Announcement of the talks came as the fighting raged on. More than 160 people were killed over the weekend as rebels tried to break a government siege of a Damascus suburb.

New findings are out on the school shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, last December. The motive remains a mystery, but the report sheds new light on other aspects of the killings.

Jeffrey Brown has the story.

JEFFREY BROWN: The long-awaited report came nearly a year after the shootings that ravaged the tiny Connecticut town.

On Dec. 14, 2012, Adam Lanza shot and killed his mother at their home, then drove to nearby Sandy Hook Elementary School, where he’d once attended. There, he killed 20 first-graders and six school staffers before turning the gun on himself.

The state attorney’s report concludes Lanza planned the rampage on his own and told no one in advance. It finds he had an obsession with mass killings, but it concludes the ultimate motive for the Sandy Hook attack may never be known.

The report is heavily redacted. That’s partly because Newtown officials have labored to protect the privacy of victims’ families and help the community recover. That included a decision to demolish the school itself, a move welcomed by many.

BILL CLARK, resident of Sandy Hook, Conn.: We’re a very strong community and we’re going to overcome this. We’re going to move on and they’re going to put up another beautiful school and we’re going to move on.

JEFFREY BROWN: A fuller account of the shootings may ultimately come from the Connecticut State Police. There’s no release date for their report.

GWEN IFILL: A blast of arctic weather swept across the U.S. today, with nearly a month still to go before winter officially arrives.

What began as an ice storm in the West moved eastward, dumping sleet, freezing rain and snow in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. The system is blamed for the deaths of at least 10 people in traffic accidents. Forecasts show the storm sweeping up the East Coast just as Thanksgiving holiday travel begins in earnest.

In Thailand, the prime minister invoked emergency law in the face of escalating protests against her rule. Thousands of demonstrators flooded streets in Bangkok and occupied major ministries.

Hours later, in a nationally televised address, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said it has to stop.

PRIME MINISTER YINGLUCK SHINAWATRA, Thailand (through interpreter): The protesters today have staged mass rallies and seized government offices such as the finance ministry, budget bureau, foreign ministry, and public relations department, which is preventing officials from doing their work and causing trouble to people in a wide area and affecting the country’s stability.

GWEN IFILL: Opponents say the prime minister is actually a puppet for her brother, a former prime minister ousted by the military in 2006 amid corruption charges.

President Obama tried to refocus attention on immigration reform today, but his message was momentarily drowned out. The president was speaking in San Francisco when a man on the stage behind him began to shout for an end to deportations and others joined in.

MAN: You have a power to stop deportations.

(CROSSTALK)

PRESIDENT PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Actually, I don’t. And that’s why we’re…

MAN: Please, I need your help.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: OK.

(SHOUTING)

PRESIDENT OBAMA: All right.

What I would like to do…

(SHOUTING)

 GWEN IFILL: The president managed to quiet the hecklers and urged them to put their energy into lobbying Congress.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: The easy way out is to try to yell and pretend like I can do something by violating our laws.

And what I’m proposing is the harder path, which is to use our democratic processes to achieve the same goal that you want to achieve, but it won’t be as easy as just shouting.

GWEN IFILL: The prospects for quick action on sweeping immigration reform are doubtful as best. House Republicans have said they will not hold any votes on the issue for the rest of this year.

On Wall Street, stocks were largely unchanged. The Dow Jones industrial average gained seven points to close at 16,072. The Nasdaq rose just under three points to close at 3,994.