Kerry says Iran, Russia blocking accord on Syria
Secretary of State John Kerry accused Russia and Iran on Monday of effectively undermining Syrian peace talks by stepping up military support and aid to the government in Damascus and allowing President Bashar Assad to stonewall while he tries to "double down" on a military victory. Last week's meetings in Geneva ended with no progress toward ending the civil war, and Kerry blamed the government's side. He spoke to reporters during a stop in Indonesia to discuss climate change. Russia rejected the charges by Kerry. • After losing ground to Syrian forces and Islamic extremists for months, the Western-backed rebel movement announced Monday that it was replacing its military chief.
Little optimism for Iran nuclear talks
Talks between six world powers and Iran over a permanent agreement on Tehran's nuclear program begin today in Vienna, but there is little optimism. Even Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said Monday in Tehran that "the nuclear negotiations will lead nowhere." That expresses his mistrust of the United States and its allies, a mistrust reciprocated in the U.S. Congress.
Rancho Mirage, Calif.: President Barack Obama squeezed in one last round of golf on Monday before wrapping up his secluded Presidents Day weekend at the Sunnylands estate and returning to Washington.
Egypt: A suicide bomber was behind a deadly blast that tore through a bus carrying South Korean tourists in the Sinai Peninsula on Sunday, killing four people, Egyptian security officials said Monday.
South Korea: A resort auditorium's roof loaded with snow and rain collapsed during a welcoming ceremony for university freshmen in the southeastern city of Gyeongju on Monday, killing 10 and injuring more than 100, officials said.
Pakistan: The government's bid to negotiate a truce with the Pakistani Taliban verged on collapse Monday after reports that militants had executed 23 soldiers held captive since 2010.
India: Police charged Tarun Tejpal, a prominent investigative journalist and magazine editor, with raping a staff reporter in a hotel elevator in November.