Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is expected to visit Turkey on Monday, for the first time since he was elected last year, a Turkish official said. The Iranian leader is expected to meet Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara for talks on bilateral ties and the broader Middle East, the official told AFP on Thursday. Ankara and Tehran are trying to mend relations strained over the Syria conflict, with Iran supporting President Bashar al-Assad and Turkey backing the rebels seeking to oust him. Iran's contentious nuclear programme is also expected to figure high on the agenda of Ankara talks.
A Venezuelan opposition leader has been ordered to stand trial on charges of instigating violence at an anti-government demonstration, prosecutors said Thursday. A judge ruled that Leopoldo Lopez, who has been in custody for three months, should stand trial, the prosecutor's office said. Lopez is charged specifically over violence that broke out during a rally against the government of Nicolas Maduro on February 12.
The row over the top EU job escalated Thursday after officials said German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron had "candid" talks on the hotly debated issue. London objects to Merkel's favoured candidate to become the next European Commission chief, former Luxembourg premier Jean-Claude Juncker, on the grounds that he supports further political union in the 28-member bloc. A spokesman for Cameron said he met Merkel at Britain's EU office in Brussels after a dinner for leaders of the Group of Seven industrialised nations. "Their discussions focused on the next European Commission -- the issues it should focus on and the appointment of the next president," the spokesman said.
Samarra (Iraq) (AFP) - Militants launched a major attack on the Iraqi city of Samarra on Thursday, killing six people and occupying neighbourhoods, in the latest display of their reach and the weakness of security forces. The militants, travelling in dozens of vehicles, some mounted with anti-aircraft guns, attacked a major checkpoint on the southeast side of Samarra, killing the security forces guarding it and burning their vehicles, witnesses said. They then took control of several areas of the city, north of Baghdad, according to witnesses, who reported seeing the bodies of both security forces and gunmen in the streets. The police officer said security forces have withdrawn from other areas to defend a revered Shiite shrine in central Samarra, which was bombed in February 2006, sparking a brutal Sunni-Shiite sectarian conflict that killed tens of thousands.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday accused the Group of Seven of "cynicism" for backing Ukraine's military operation against armed pro-Russian insurgents. "The so-called G7 even talks about the measured actions of the Ukrainian army against its own people," Medvedev told ministers, quoted by the Interfax news agency. "This is cynicism without limit." In a joint communique released at a G7 summit in Brussels on Wednesday, world leaders encouraged Ukraine to "maintain a measured approach in pursuing operations to restore law and order."