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The United States on Monday expressed concern over a new law in Egypt that restricts demonstrations and said it agrees with groups that argue the law does not meet international standards and hampers the country's move toward democracy. "The United States wants Egypt's transition to an inclusive democracy to succeed," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement after Egyptian security forces fired teargas to disperse university students who had defied the law, which was passed on Sunday. "We urge the interim government to respect individual rights and we urge that the new constitution protect such rights." Egypt has experienced some of its worst civilian violence in decades after the military ousted the country's first democratically elected president, Mohamed Mursi, in July.
US President Barack Obama defended his administration's Iran policy but said "huge challenges" remained to successfully implement a landmark deal on Tehran's nuclear ambitions. Obama has come under fierce criticism from Republican rivals at home and key allies abroad, such as Israel, for pursuing a diplomatic solution to the Iran question. Israel decried the breakthrough agreement reached in Geneva on Sunday -- under which Tehran agreed to curb its nuclear program in return for an easing of sanctions -- as a "historic mistake." Obama, however, insisted that the US policy of diplomacy twinned with sanctions had been more productive than rhetoric, stating that "tough talk" alone would not guarantee US security.
The wife of a US retiree detained in North Korea for nearly a month fought back tears as she appealed Monday for his release in time for this week's Thanksgiving holiday. Merrill Newman, 85, from California, was taken off a plane as he was about to leave the reclusive state on October 26, and there has been no word since about his fate. "We're looking forward as a family to being together on Thanksgiving, and we need to have Merrill back at the head of the table for the holidays," she added. In a statement issued Friday, she said her husband of 56 years, a Korean war veteran, was detained shortly before takeoff in Pyongyang, after finishing a 10-day tour of North Korea, "a trip he had looked forward to making for a long while."
By Mark Hosenball WASHINGTON (Reuters) - British and U.S. intelligence officials say they are worried about a "doomsday" cache of highly classified, heavily encrypted material they believe former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden has stored on a data cloud. The cache contains documents generated by the NSA and other agencies and includes names of U.S. and allied intelligence personnel, seven current and former U.S. officials and other sources briefed on the matter said. Spokespeople for both NSA and the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to comment. One source described the cache of still unpublished material as Snowden's "insurance policy" against arrest or physical harm.
By Belinda Goldsmith GLASGOW (Reuters) - The Scottish government will focus on the potential economic gains from independence on Tuesday when it unveils its vision for the future if Scots choose to end a 306-year union with England. Alex Salmond, head of a devolved government in Scotland - which for now is still part of the United Kingdom - has promised to spell out exactly what would happen if Scots vote on September 18 next year to leave the UK. With separatists lagging in opinion polls, his Scottish National Party is hoping the 670-page blueprint will win over the many sceptics, answering questions the SNP has been accused of dodging, such as the currency of an independent Scotland, its membership of the European Union and border arrangements. "We are setting out a positive plan for job opportunities and economic growth based on Scotland's vast natural resources, key growth sectors and human talent," said Salmond, whose party has a majority in Scotland's parliament.