Iran and Pakistan are moving closer to completion of a nearly 1,000-mile natural gas pipeline linking the two countries, despite U.S. objections that it could become a source of hard currency for Tehran in defiance of international sanctions.
Monday marks the beginning of construction on Pakistan's part of the pipeline, which will consist of a 485-mile run. Iran has already completed most of its 760 miles of the link, which will stretch from Assaluyeh along Iran's Persian Gulf coast to Nawabshah in Pakistan's Sindh province.
Just before leaving for Venezuela to attend the funeral of Hugo Chávez, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad penned a laudatory tribute for the late president.
"[Chavez] is alive, as long as nations are alive and struggle for consolidating independence, justice and kindness. I have no doubt that he will come back, and along with Christ the Saviour, the heir to all saintly and perfect men, and will bring peace, justice and perfection for all," Ahmadinejad wrote in a letter he sent the Venezuelan vice president.
Rats have been a problem for many years in Tehran. As the BBC reported in 2000, officials back then launched a poison control program that they hoped would kill many of the estimated 25 million rats in the city.
Officials at six-nation nuclear talks on limiting Iran's nuclear program say the two-day meeting in Kazakhstan has been a turning point, and Tehran's lead negotiator described the discussions as a positive step.
But NPR's Peter Kenyon, reporting from the talks in Almaty, says it appears that most of what was accomplished was simply laying the groundwork for future discussions.
Iran now says compromise on its nuclear program may be possible. Of course, that comes with a number of ifs. Tehran says that's if international negotiators continue to take what it calls a more realistic approach. The big question, Western officials say, is whether Iran is willing to curb its nuclear activities. That is the message, after a two-day meeting between Iran and six world powers. NPR's Peter Kenyon joins us from Almaty, Kazakhstan where the talks just concluded.