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News Wrap: McCain and Graham Visit Egypt, Urge Opposition Members Be Released

August 6, 2013 at 12:00 AM EDT
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KWAME HOLMAN: Two U.S. senators urged Egypt’s interim leaders today to release jailed members of the Muslim Brotherhood. Republicans John McCain and Lindsey Graham visited Cairo in a bid to help resolve the standoff between the military-backed government and supporters of ousted President Morsi.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-Ariz.: We believe they should treat each other with respect. We also urge the release of political prisoners. We also urge strongly a national dialogue, a national dialogue that is inclusive for parties, including the Muslim Brotherhood.

KWAME HOLMAN: Sen. Graham said the interim government risks jeopardizing relations with the U.S. if it excludes Brotherhood members from political negotiations.

A spate of car bombings around Baghdad killed more than 50 Iraqis today, as the recent surge of violence showed no signs of easing. The attacks began just before sunset and continued into the night. More than 650 people have been killed in Iraq during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

In Syria, rebels claimed they have captured a key air base in the northern part of the country. The base is in the northern Aleppo province and has been under siege since last year. Video from the site showed rebels apparently inspecting the area near the Turkish border. Syrian state TV insisted government troops still are fighting there.

The new president of Iran announced today his country is ready for serious talks on its nuclear program. Hassan Rouhani held his first news conference since taking office Sunday.

We have a report narrated by Alex Thomson of Independent Television News.

ALEX THOMSON: Transparency is a favorite Rouhani buzzword, so he duly appeared in front of the packed media.

The national anthem, prayers, and the foreign media got down to business, Iranian and foreign journalists asking about the nuclear deadlock on the anniversary of Hiroshima. Russia said today she wants talks next month. President Rouhani says a deal is doable and doable soon if the West, as he put it, stops the threats and starts engagement.

PRESIDENT HASSAN ROUHANI, Iran (through interpreter): We are willing with seriousness and without time-wasting to enter serious and substantial negotiations with our counterparts. If our counterparts have the same willingness, I am certain that the concerns of both parties will through talks be eliminated, and in the not-too-distant future. The root of this achievement has to be discussions, not threats. That is the key to this issue.

ALEX THOMSON: The man who spent years as a key Iranian negotiator on the nuclear deadlock said the war-mongering of another state was imposing its agenda on America. He didn’t mention Israel by name, but he did send them a message today, saying Iran is not interested in threatening or intimidating any other country.

HASSAN ROUHANI (through interpreter): The worst approach is to shout sharply, then act slowly. We hope to make long strides in action, but calm ones in expressing ourselves logically, politely, with wisdom, with all of the world, so that the world believes we have no intention of threatening anyone.

ALEX THOMSON: He spelled out yet again Iran seeks nuclear power, not nuclear weapons. This is a man who has persuaded his own country in the past to suspend the nuclear program to help talks in 2005. It got nowhere, Iran since then has been repeatedly accused of hiding elements of its nuclear program.

KWAME HOLMAN: In Washington, a State Department spokeswoman said Iran now has a chance to act quickly on concerns about its nuclear program.

The latest look at rising military suicide rates concludes there is little or no connection to combat. Instead, the study at the Naval Research Center in San Diego blames depression and alcohol problems, among other things. Researchers tracked more than 145,000 active-duty troops and veterans from 2001 to 2008. The findings were published today in “The Journal of the American Medical Association.”

Former President George W. Bush underwent a successful heart procedure today in Texas. Doctors at a Dallas hospital placed a stent in a blocked artery. The blockage was discovered on Monday during the former president’s annual physical. Mr. Bush is 67 years old. He’s expected to be released tomorrow.

President Obama has renewed his push for mortgage reform. In Phoenix today, the president called for phasing out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-backed mortgage giants. He said taxpayers shouldn’t have to suffer when lenders make poor decisions.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We have got to encourage the pursuit of profit, but the era of expecting a bailout after you pursue your profit and you don’t manage your risk well, well, that puts the whole country at risk. And we’re ending those days. We’re not going to do that anymore.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

KWAME HOLMAN: The president said he wants the private sector to assume most of the risk, while continuing to offer the popular 30-year mortgage.

Wall Street gave up ground today over warnings of weaker corporate profits. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 94 points to close at 15,518. The NASDAQ fell 27 points to close at 3,665.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.