BBC News with Jerry Smit
The US Secretary of State John Kerry says Israel and the Palestinians have agreed to resume direct peace talks for the first time in three years. He said initial talk should begin in Washington within a week or so. Mr Kerry cautioned that the deal was still being formalised and many problems lay ahead.
"No one believes that the long-standing differences between the parties can be resolved overnight or just wiped away. We know that the challenges require some very tough choices in the days ahead. Today, however, I am hopeful.”
Yolande Knell in Jerusalem was listening to Mr Kerry.
Twice in the past two days Mr Kerry changed his scheduled flight home because of signs of a breakthrough in his diplomatic efforts. Finally he was able to make the declaration he’d hoped for. Earlier Mr Kerry made a previously unscheduled trip to Ramallah in the West Bank for his third meeting this week with the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. He said he’d also been speaking on the telephone to the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and praised both leaders for showing courage.
The US state department says the CIA’s former station chief in Milan, who was convicted by an Italian court for his alleged role in the kidnapping of an Egyptian Muslim cleric, is on his way back to the United States from Panama. Robert Seldon Lady was one of 23 Americans sentenced for their part in the extraordinary rendition of Hassan Nasr, who was kidnapped and taken to Egypt where he says he was tortured.
President Obama says the United States needs to do some soul-searching a week after the acquittal of George Zimmerman who shot dead an unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin. Jurors decided he was acting in self-defence. The case has led to a nationwide discussion about race and self-defence laws in the US. At a news conference, Mr Obama said he himself could have been Trayvon Martin 35 years ago and there were good reasons why there was a lot of pain in the black community.
"I think it’s important to recognise that the African American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and history that doesn’t go away.”
Mr Obama also said it raised questions about racial profiling.
"If a white male teen was involved in the same kind of scenario, that from top to bottom, both the outcome and the aftermath might have been different.”
Inter-ethnic violence in South Sudan has caused a humanitarian crisis forcing at least 100,000 refugees to flee their homes, according to estimates by Médecins sans Frontières. A video filmed by a UN peacekeeper shows a huge column of men allegedly returning from fighting stretching from horizon to horizon. Fighting between the Lou Nuer and Murle communities began earlier this month in Jonglei state.
World News from the BBC
Three associates of the former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi have been found guilty of procuring prostitutes for his parties. They were sentenced by a court in Milan for finding young women willing to have sex for money on what became known as “bunga bunga” evenings at Mr Berlusconi’s home. The three, a television presenter, a showgirl-turned-politician and a failed showbusiness agent were given prison sentences of between five and seven years.
The authorities in Mexico say hundreds of residents have fled their homes following a surge of drug-related violence in the Tierra Caliente region west of Mexico City. Mexican media says the army and the federal police have sent reinforcements to the area.
A new satellite television station, 1st TV, targeting audiences in Zimbabwe, has been launched in South Africa only two weeks before general elections are due to be held. 1st TV insists that it will be independent and aims to represent all parties and views in Zimbabwe. But even before it went on the air, President Robert Mugabe’s spokesman dismissed it as a pirate station. One of the station’s presenters, Violet Gondar, said she was not surprised at the critical reaction from Mr Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party.
"We are actually just providing a platform for Zimbabweans to be able to have access to all media, all information so that they can make informed decisions. We don’t see anything wrong with what we are doing. This is a natural reaction from Zanu-PF. I’m not bothered by it, and I’m sure Zimbabweans are not, either.”
Police in the US state of Texas have launched an investigation after four men were found in a house in the city of Houston who it believed have been held captive there for up to 10 years. The police were alerted by a neighbour and found conditions they described as like a dungeon. The men were malnourished and told officers that they’d been enticed to the house with promises of beer and cigarettes.