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Syrian opposition backs peace talks

New York

Opposition backs Syria peace talks

The new head of the main Syrian exile opposition group says he is prepared to attend a peace conference in Geneva with representatives of President Bashar Assad of Syria without preconditions.

But the group's new president, Ahmad al-Jarba, said in an interview in New York on Saturday that he wanted assurances from the United States that there would be a deadline for making progress.

"The regime is used to manipulating the process and wasting time," he said.

Jarba, who met last week with Secretary of State John Kerry in New York, said that he would not propose a specific deadline until the talks are closer at hand.

With the death toll among both sides in Syria exceeding 100,000, Kerry has continued to press for an international conference in Geneva, a proposal that is facing formidable obstacles, including Russia's insistence that Iranian officials attend.

Italy

Rescuers say 37 die in bus plunge into ravine

A tour bus filled with Italians returning home after an excursion plunged off a highway into a ravine in southern Italy on Sunday night after it had smashed into several cars that were slowed by heavy traffic, killing at least 37 people, said police and rescuers.

Flashing signs near Avellino, outside Naples, had warned of slowed traffic ahead along a stretch of the A116 autostrada, a major highway crossing southern Italy, before the crash occurred, said highway police and officials, speaking on state radio. They said the bus driver appeared to have lost control of his vehicle.

The radio report said 11 people were hospitalized with injuries.

Noxen, Pa.

5 killed in helicopter crash in wooded area

A helicopter crash in a rugged, wooded area of northeastern Pennsylvania claimed the lives of five people, including one child, officials said Sunday.

The crash happened Saturday night after the pilot told air traffic controllers he was losing altitude, according to Wyoming County coroner Thomas Kukuchka. Though the names of those on board have not been released, Kukuchka said three men, a woman and a child were killed.

New York

Weiner's campaign manager quits race

Anthony Weiner vowed to stay in the race for New York City mayor Sunday despite the loss of his campaign manager and the drumbeat of critics questioning his fitness for public office.

Weiner confirmed that campaign manager Danny Kedem resigned Saturday after reports surfaced that Weiner continued to exchange lewd photos and messages with women despite resigning from Congress in 2011 over the same behavior.

Philadelphia

Same-sex couple marry despite ban

A suburban Philadelphia woman who tied the knot with her longtime partner Sunday with a county marriage license despite the commonwealth's ban on same-sex marriage said it was the day "that every committed couple waits for."

Dee Spagnuolo, 39, and Sasha Ballen, 38, were married at their Wynnewood home after receiving a license from officials in Montgomery County.

The ceremony was the latest to take place in the county where officials began issuing licenses last week in defiance of a 1996 state law defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

Spain

Train crash driver charged with homicide

The driver of a Spanish train that derailed at high speed, killing 79 people, was provisionally charged Sunday with multiple cases of negligent homicide.

A court statement said investigative magistrate Luis Alaez released Francisco Jose Garzon Amo without bail. The statement said Garzon must appear in court once a week and is forbidden to leave Spain without permission.

The Spanish rail agency has said the brakes should have been applied 2.5 miles before the train hit a curve and derailed.

Elsewhere

Cambodia: After years of dominance in national politics, the party of Prime Minister Hun Sen won a relatively narrow victory in elections Sunday as opponents rode a wave of disenchantment with his 28 years in power.

Boston: Teresa Heinz Kerry, the wife Secretary of State John Kerry, was discharged from a hospital Saturday, just under three weeks after she suffered a seizure at their Nantucket home, the State Department said.

Times wires

Syrian opposition backs peace talks 07/29/13 [Last modified: Monday, July 29, 2013 1:43am]

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