Peter Kenyon

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Iran and six world powers are meeting in Vienna this week in their latest attempt to hammer out a comprehensive nuclear agreement by July 20.

That's when a six-month interim agreement expires. It can be extended for up to another six months, though all sides say they're aiming for an agreement this summer.

Iran is negotiating with the so-called P5 plus one, which consists of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — the U.S., Britain, France, Russia and China — plus Germany.

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And I'm Melissa Block. The battle for control of eastern Ukraine heated up again today. Pro-Russian insurgents shot down a military helicopter - killing at least a dozen soldiers, including an Army general. The deaths came days after the Ukrainian military inflicted heavy losses on rebels, who had seized the Donetsk airport.

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The elections could be a major step in bringing legitimacy to the Kiev government if it can navigate the pitfalls of pro-Russian extremists in the East and hardline Ukrainian nationalists in the West.

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Another round of nuclear talks between world powers in Iran ended yesterday and negotiations are expected to run through July. The U.S. wants to limit Iran's nuclear program. Iran wants relief from economic sanctions, but there are some mysteries, including rumors and reports about old weapons programs Iran allegedly hid.

And that poses a dilemma. How does it admit to past concealment? Well, it asked the world to trust it under a new deal. NPR's Peter Kenyon reports from the talks in Vienna.

Almost a year into Hassan Rouhani's presidency, the wave of high expectations that marked his rise to power in Iran has given way to impatience from his supporters and increasing attacks from his critics.

As Iranian negotiators headed to New York last week for expert-level nuclear talks, conservatives spoke out in parliament and gathered at the old U.S. Embassy in Tehran for some of the boldest attacks yet on Rouhani's leadership. Until now, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has kept hardliners relatively quiet about the nuclear negotiations, which resume Tuesday in Vienna.

If we mention the northwestern Turkish city of Edirne, tucked up near the borders with Greece and Bulgaria, you may think, "Oh brother, not another story about olive oil wrestling."

Yes, it's true that each summer for the last 650 or so years Edirne has hosted the Kirkpinar Olive Oil Wrestling Festival, in which half-naked men slathered in fragrant oil grapple in the grass. It's activity that's even recognized as a UNESCO Heritage Event.

Some countries in Syria's neighborhood are feeling inundated with refugees, and countries like Greece are making it harder for them to enter the country. Now Bulgaria has followed suit, with growing reports of Syrian refugees facing violent beatings, according to a new report by Human Rights Watch.

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Turkey has seen its share of political controversies lately, including large protests and a government ban of Twitter. Despite that, the ruling party appears to be maintaining its popularity. But now it may face a split in its highest ranks. There's competition brewing between its two main figures: President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

NPR's Peter Kenyon reports from Istanbul that many are wary of Erdogan's growing power.

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Russia's annexation of the Crimean Peninsula leaves Ukraine with control of only one major port on the Black Sea. It's the city of Odessa which, like Crimea, has a large Russian-speaking population and deep historic ties to its huge neighbor.

After a winter of lightning-fast changes – a president ousted and a peninsula apparently lost to Russia — Ukrainians are beginning to look ahead to elections on May 25 to replace Viktor Yanukovych.

The opposition leader who seemed to have the inside track a few weeks ago, ex-world champion heavyweight Vitali Klitschko, has taken himself out of the running. Klitschko will stand for mayor of Kiev and throw his support behind billionaire Petro Poroshenko, who made his fortune in the candy business.

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And I'm Audie Cornish. Russian President Vladimir Putin says Moscow has not sent troops to Crimea, despite being authorized to do so. Russia's defense minister says reports of Russian forces fanning out across Crimea are complete nonsense. And yet, Ukrainian and Western officials, as well as witnesses and journalists in Crimea tell a very different story. NPR's Peter Kenyon joins us from the Crimean capitol of Simferopol.

Not everyone in Crimea is happy with recent events. Muslim Tatars, who'd lived there for centuries, were exiled by Stalin and could only return with the fall of Communism. Now, the Russians are back.

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Events in Ukraine have taken another dramatic turn. Russian forces now control Ukraine's Crimean peninsula. The Ukrainian government in Kiev is calling up its military reserves. Secretary of State John Kerry says Russia's military incursion is an incredible act of aggression. Kerry will meet with the new Ukrainian government in Kiev on Tuesday.

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And I'm Audie Cornish. Ukraine's new government was installed today, but it was completely overshadowed by events in the majority Russian Crimea. Armed men took over two government buildings in the Crimean capital and hoisted a Russian flag over the parliament. Meanwhile, the fugitive former president, Viktor Yanukovych, appeared to resurface in Russia, releasing a written statement declaring himself to be the legitimate leader of Ukraine.

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We begin this hour with the latest developments from Ukraine and some of the responses from Western powers. Washington is offering financial advice and is now considering a $1 billion loan-guarantee package to help support the Ukrainian economy. In a moment, we'll hear how the British government views the crisis.

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President Hassan Rouhani appeals to Iranian college students when he talks about creating more opportunities for the young. But the clock is ticking. Many of those born long after the 1979 Islamic Revolution see limited prospects at home and envision a better future abroad.

Outside Tehran University, Iran's largest, you can find earnest young students like Fazle Mahmoudian, 21, a math major who says he knows job prospects are grim, though he's not looking to leave.

Iran's economy may be struggling, but that doesn't mean everyone is suffering.

In a downtown Tehran restaurant, a well-dressed young man who asks to be identified only as Ahmad sits with a friend enjoying a water pipe of flavored tobacco.

Ahmad is a bit vague about what he does — first he says he's in the petrochemical business, then describes himself as an independent trader. He shares the general consensus that President Hassan Rouhani has brought a better atmosphere to the country but no real economic changes.

Iran on Tuesday marked the 35th anniversary of its Islamic revolution, a day when the country's religious conservatives and military hard-liners take center stage, and calls of "Death to America" echo across the country.

In Tehran's Azadi Square, one man waving an orange "Down with the USA" flag condemned the U.S. and Israel, and then, perhaps not sure of the nationality of the reporter standing nearby, threw in England and France for good measure.

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Istanbul has long been a city of historical layers and sharp contrasts: ancient monuments share the skyline none too comfortably with modern skyscrapers, and charming cobbled streets run alongside massive highway traffic snarls.

Those contrasts have multiplied under Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and his love of giant building projects hasn't abated after more than a decade in power.

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No tangible results, that verdict today from Syria's foreign minister as peace talks wrapped up in Geneva. Despite the lack of progress, opposition delegates say they gained new support by standing face to face with representatives of Bashar al-Assad. The U.N. mediator is asking both sides to return to talks on February 10th. NPR's Peter Kenyon is in Geneva and begins our coverage.

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