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April 28, 2012 at 12:21 PM
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U.S. Secret Service tightens travel rules

WASHINGTON, April 28 (UPI) -- The U.S. Secret Service formally banned its agents from allowing foreign nationals into their hotel rooms while on duty overseas.

The memorandum issued Friday came in response to an embarrassing scandal involving members of President Obama's security advance team who reputedly partied with local prostitutes while making arrangements for his trip to a conference in Colombia.

The new policy limits visits by foreign nationals to hotel staff and law enforcement officials. It also limits the amount of alcohol agents can consume while off duty and makes "non-reputable establishments" off limits.

The New York Times said Saturday the memo tightens up rules of conduct that some senior agency officials concede were too vague.

Iran to begin new talks with U.N. agency

TEHRAN, April 28 (UPI) -- Iran said it will begin a new round of talks with the U.N. nuclear watchdog in May on the nation's nuclear program.

Asqar Soltaniyeh, Iran's envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, said the talks are set for May 13-14 in Vienna, Austria, at the offices of Iran's mission to the IAEA, the semiofficial FARS News Agency reported Saturday.

Soltaniyeh said Iran's decision to resume talks with the IAEA "shows the peaceful nature of all of its nuclear activities, while showing that claims against Iran are baseless."

An IAEA team said in February it wasn't allowed access to the Parchin military installation, southeast of Tehran, which the agency suspects may house a nuclear weapons program. But Iran has since said it would allow inspectors access to Parchin.

The Islamic republic has said its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes, but Western countries fear it is working toward developing nuclear weapons.

The U.N. Security Council has imposed sanctions on Iran for not abandoning uranium enrichment. FARS said the country is entitled to enrich uranium under the international Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Iran and six world powers are to begin a second round of talks in Baghdad May 23. The six countries -- the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany -- began talks with Iran on April 14 in Istanbul, Turkey.

Report: Saudis close embassy in Egypt

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, April 28 (UPI) -- Saudi Arabia closed its embassy in Egypt Saturday due to frequent demonstrations outside Saudi missions across the country, sources told the Saudi Press Agency.

The Saudi ambassador was also recalled until further notice after what the government said were repeated attempts by protesters to storm the embassy in Cairo and consulates in other cities.

The source said the protests were making it impossible for consular employees to do their work, which includes issuing travel visas to religious pilgrims and Egyptians who work in the Kingdom.

Egypt's Ahram Online said the protests have focused on the reputedly poor treatment of visiting workers in Saudi Arabia and the detention of Ahmed El-Gizawi, an Egyptian human-rights activist, on drug-smuggling charges.

Talks between U.S., Pakistan adjourn

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, April 28 (UPI) -- High-level talks between the United States and Pakistan have broken down, but diplomats say it's the first step in a long process of repairing the relationship.

Washington's delegation left Islamabad Friday night with no breakthroughs on healing the rift, which has been aggravated by last November's U.S. friendly fire airstrike on Pakistani troops and the more-recent terrorist raids in Afghanistan.

"This is the beginning of the re-engagement conversation," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in Washington. "We're going to have to work through these issues, and it's going to take some time."

The New York Times said a major sticking point has been Pakistan's demand for an apology over the air strike that killed two dozen of its soldiers along the Afghan border. Sources told the newspaper the Obama administration was considering the gesture until earlier this month when terrorists believed to be operating out of Pakistan struck downtown Kabul, raising questions about the role Pakistani intelligence may have played in the incident. "What changed was the 15th of April," a senior administration official said.

Sources said despite the sticking points, the two sides were at least satisfied that a dialogue between the two wary allies was taking place and new ideas for constructive change were being proposed.

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