News Wrap: Obama calls for Iran’s release of U.S. citizens

In our news wrap Friday, President Obama called for Iran to release three American citizens, timing his appeal to coincide with the Iranian New Year. Also, Iran, the U.S. and five other powers began a break from nuclear talks in Switzerland. Secretary of State John Kerry said the discussions had been productive, and talks will resume next Wednesday.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Iran, the U.S. and five other powers broke off nuclear talks in Switzerland today. The Iranian delegation returned home for the funeral of their president's mother. Secretary of State John Kerry said the discussions had been very productive, and, in Washington, his spokesman urged patience. JEFF RATHKE, State Department Spokesman: We're focused on the deadline at the end of March, and that's why, you know, there's — we have the intention to go back and resume talks. So we're focused on that and focused on getting a good deal.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Negotiations resume next Wednesday. In the meantime, Kerry is set to meet with his European counterparts in London tomorrow.

    President Obama called today for Iran to release three American citizens. He timed the appeal to coincide with the Iranian new year. One of the Americans is Jason Rezaian, a Washington Post reporter being held on unspecified charges. The others are a former Marine convicted of spying for the CIA and a minister found guilty of setting up churches in Iran.

    Police in Afghanistan have arrested seven people in the brutal death of an Afghan woman. This graphic video shows a mob beating and kicking the woman yesterday. It happened outside a mosque in central Kabul. The victim's body was later set on fire and thrown in a river. The crowd apparently accused her of insulting Islam by burning a Koran. A police investigator said she'd been seeing a psychiatrist for several years.

    In India, a scandal has erupted over cheating on crucial high school exams. Authorities said today more than 1,000 10th graders have been expelled this week. The issue exploded into view with video of dozens of people scaling the walls of a testing center in Bihar state. They could be seen passing, or even throwing, answers to students through open windows.

    But the state education minister said it's hard to stop.

  • P.K. SHAHI, Education Minister, Bihar State (through interpreter):

    There are more than 1.4 million students sitting for exams. Three to four people helping a single student would mean that there are a total of six to seven million people helping students cheat. Is it the responsibility of the government alone to manage such a huge number of people and to conduct a 100 percent free and fair examination?

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Reports of cheating have increased since the government began offering cash to poor students who perform well. They have to pass the exams to continue their education.

    From Rome to Moscow, millions of people across Europe were treated to a cosmic phenomenon today: a full solar eclipse. People on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard had the best view of all. It was one of only two locations on the planet where the moon totally eclipsed the sun.

    And, on Wall Street, it wasn't the eclipse, but a recovery in oil prices that led the broader market higher. The Dow Jones industrial average gained almost 170 points to close above 18100. The Nasdaq rose 34, and the S&P 500 added about 19. For the week, the Dow gained 2 percent. The Nasdaq rose 3 percent. And the S&P added nearly 3 percent.