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World/National News

September 20, 2013

House to vote on stopgap funding bill

(Continued)

Yet the jihadis, including members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, an al-Qaida offshoot, have been some of the most effective forces on the battlefield, fighting alongside the Western-backed Free Syrian Army to capture military facilities, strategic installations and key neighborhoods in cities such as Aleppo and Homs.

Iran’s supreme leader opens way for new Iranian President Rouhani’s outreach to Washington

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — There’s no mistaking the desire of Iran’s new president and his allies to open greater contacts with Washington over nuclear talks and possibly other regional crises such as Syria. The messages that really matter, though, come from the ultimate decision-maker in Tehran: Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The immensely powerful Khamenei opened the door a bit six months ago by saying he wouldn’t oppose closer diplomatic exchanges but did not believe the Washington was ready to make meaningful accommodations. Now, it appears Khamenei is giving President Hasan Rouhani critical room — for the moment at least — to explore potentially groundbreaking overtures with Washington.

A series of statements this week from Khamenei — including saying Iran can show “heroic flexibility” in diplomacy — suggest a significant shift could be underway. Khamenei appears to be aligning his views more closely with Rouhani’s initiatives to repair tattered relations with the West and reopen stalled nuclear negotiations with world powers.

Perceived backing from Khamenei would bestow major credibility to the outreach appeals by Rouhani, who is scheduled to arrive in New York next week for the annual opening of the U.N. General Assembly session. Already, Rouhani’s foreign minister, Mohammad Jadad Zarif, was in New York on Thursday making preparations, and Iran’s only Jewish lawmaker, Siamak Moreh Sedgh, told The Associated Press in Tehran that he will be part of the delegation.

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