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By Alexandra Alper and David Alire Garcia MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican Senate committees on Sunday debated an energy bill that would open up the world's 10th-biggest oil producer to private investment by allowing new types of contracts, marking the industry's most dramatic overhaul in 75 years. The bill, announced by centrist ruling party and opposition conservative lawmakers on Saturday, would let private firms partner with ailing state oil firm Pemex via profit-sharing, risk-sharing and service contracts as well as licenses in a bid to boost sagging production. The reform, which would keep ownership of crude in state hands, is at the center of an economic reform drive that President Enrique Pena Nieto hopes will boost lagging growth in Latin America's No. 2 economy. It is much bolder than a draft proposed by Pena Nieto's Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) in August, which would have offered profit-sharing contracts and was considered too tame for attracting private firms.
U.N. inspectors visited an Iranian plant on Sunday linked to a planned heavy-water reactor that could yield nuclear bomb fuel, taking up an initial offer by Tehran to open its disputed nuclear program to greater scrutiny. The increased transparency is the result of a thaw in relations between Iran and the West that culminated in a deal struck last month under which Tehran is to curb its nuclear program in return for some easing of sanctions. Iran's heavy water work is a big concern for the West because it could be used in the process of making a nuclear bomb. Tehran says its program is for peaceful purposes.
BANGUI, Central African Republic (AP) — The rebel-leader-turned-president of Central African Republic acknowledged Sunday that he doesn't have total control over former allies who are accused of killing scores of civilians. He said even "an angel from the sky" could not solve all his country's problems.
By Caren Bohan and Aruna Viswanatha WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A senior Democrat said on Sunday he hoped an emerging deal on the U.S. budget would include an extension of unemployment benefits but added that his party would not necessarily walk away from an agreement that left it out. "I don't think we've reached that point where we've said, ‘This is it, take it or leave it,'" Senator Richard Durbin told the ABC program "This Week," when pressed on whether his party would insist on including jobless aid in a final deal. Durbin, the second-ranking Senate Democrat, said that based on what he has heard from Senator Patty Murray, the lead Democratic negotiator on the budget, the fiscal talks are making progress and moving in the right direction. The House of Representatives and Senate budget panel, created after the government shutdown in October, is discussing a two-year accord that would ease the impact of across-the-board spending cuts known as the "sequester" and lower the near-term risk of another damaging fiscal showdown.
Irish province Connacht produced perhaps the greatest upset in the history of the European Cup on Sunday in beating four-time champions Toulouse 16-14 in France to round off a weekend which saw all four Irish sides win. Connacht, who had lost 10 successive matches since recording their only win of the season over Italian side Zebre in the European Cup opening pool game, had former Scotland fly-half Dan Parks to thank largely for their success as he scored 11 points. Sterling defence also played a role after a try by their scrum-half Kieran Marmion in the 47th minute, set up by a brilliant offload by Robbie Henshaw, restored the lead they had held for most of the first-half. Toulouse, who got back into the game with a try by France captain Thierry Dusautoir 15 minutes from time, did manage to come away with a bonus point to put them level on points with table-topping Saracens.
JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that any agreement to emerge from newly restarted talks with the Palestinians will likely initially result in a "cold peace," and therefore Israel must insist on "iron-clad security arrangements" to protect itself in case the accord collapses.