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Dozens Die in Pakistan Suicide Attack; Talks Start on Iran’s Nuclear Program

Pakistanis help an injured tribal elder upon his arrival at a hospital in Peshawar on Dec. 6, 2010, following a suicide blast attacking pro-government elders and members of an anti-Taliban militia in a key district on the Afghan border. Photo by Hasham Ahmed/AFP/Getty Images.

A Taliban spokesman is claiming responsibility for a deadly bombing at a Pakistani government compound in Ghalanai, near the border with Afghanistan. The attack, reportedly carried out by two men on motorcycles, came as officials were meeting with local leaders aligned against the Taliban, which has a strong presence in the region.

This was the second attack in the area; in July a car bomb killed 105 people in nearby Yakaghund. Around 4,000 people are estimated to have died in suicide bombings believed to be linked to al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistan in recent years as the government has struggled to contain extremist groups within the country.

Leaders Convene in Switzerland for Iran Nuclear Talks

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has staunchly defended his country’s nuclear program despite U.N. sanctions. Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images.

Members of the U.N. Security Council, Germany and Iran are in Geneva for nuclear talks one day after Iran announced that it is successfully mining yellowcake used to produce enriched uranium.

The talks, also known as the P5 plus one (the five permanent members of the Security Council and Germany), had been on hold for the past year despite growing concerns over Iran’s nuclear program. Iran has faced economic sanctions, but Iran’s chief negotiator in Geneva, Ali Akbar Salehi, claimed the ability to mine uranium ore means the country “has become self-sufficient in the entire fuel cycle,” despite the sanctions aimed at limiting access to raw materials.

Despite the timing of the announcement, it is still unclear how close Iran is to being able to enrich uranium. Iran has long claimed its nuclear ambitions are primarily aimed at producing electricity.

Continental Airlines Convicted in Concorde Crash Trial

Continental Airlines was ordered to pay more than 1 million euros in restitution for the July 25, 2000, crash near Paris that killed 113 people. The U.S.-owned airline was accused of negligence after a piece of metal damaged the tire of the Air France Concorde flight, causing a fire. The French court convicted Continental of involuntary manslaughter.

The airline has vowed to appeal what it calls an “absurd” verdict, claiming it was not solely responsible for the events leading up to the crash.

The crash temporarily suspended flights of the once-touted supersonic jets, which were completely halted in 2003.

President Obama Calls on Chinese President Hu Jintao to Pressure North Korea

President Obama spoke by phone with Chinese President Hu Jintao on Sunday night to urge him to increase pressure on North Korea in the wake of the deadly shelling attack on South Korea’s Yeonpyeong island on Nov. 23.

The attack has heightened tensions between the United States and China, which has long been North Korea’s biggest ally and benefactor in the region. The United States has reiterated its security alliance with South Korea and Japan while calling on China to deal directly with North Korea.

China has called for a resumption of the long-stalled six-party nuclear talks with Russia, Japan, South Korea and the United States. Negotiations with North Korea are complicated further by the unpredictability of its regime, which appears to be preparing for a succession from Kim Jong-Il to his son, Kim Jong-Un.

Presidents Obama and Hu Jintao are scheduled for a summit next month.

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