Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said a possible peace deal with the Palestinians would take at least another year to negotiate, should both sides accept US proposed principles to keep the talks going. Netanyahu reiterated that he regarded the proposals drafted by Secretary of State John Kerry, as an “American document of American positions.” This attitude would give leeway to those Israelis supporting Jewish settlements in occupied lands and lead to Israel backing out of the talks. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is due to meet Obama on March 17 to discuss the so-called framework deal, aimed at salvaging the faltering negotiations.
At least 10 Lebanese and Syrian nuns, who were kidnapped last year from the historic Christian town of Maaloula, may be released on Sunday, according to Arab media sources. A pro-regime Syrian news agency said a deal has been reached to release the nuns who were captured by the Nusra Front, one of the Islamist radical groups fighting Presedent Assad’s forces. Meanwhile the head of Qatari intelligence, Saadeh el-Kbeisi, has arrived in Lebanon. Along with Lebanon’s General Security Chief, Major General Abbas Ibrahim, Qatar has become a crucial player in the negotiations to release the nuns.
Astronaut Koichi Wakata, 50, has become the first Japanese commander of the International Space Station. Wakata, who has been a flight engineer on board the ISS since November, has taken over command from Russia’s Oleg Kotov, who will return to Earth on March 11. “I am very proud as a Japanese to be given this important commandership of ISS,” Wakata said, as cited the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, JAXA. He will head the crew till May 14, when their return to the planet is scheduled.
Afghan Vice President Marshal Mohammad Qasim Fahim, who used to be one of the country's most feared warlords, died of illness at the age of 56. Ethnic Tajik, Fahim was a leader of the minority in Afghanistan. “The government of Afghanistan has called for a three-day national mourning, during which the national flag will be half-mast for his demise,” presidential spokesman Aimal Faizi said on his Twitter account.
At least 30 people have been taken to hospitals in Anaheim, California, after a stage collapsed during a student event at Servite High School late on Saturday, AP reports. The injuries are minor. It’s not yet clear if all who were hurt were students. 250 girls from sister Catholic school Rosary High School were on the stage, when it collapsed. “Early investigations suggest the front of the stage gave out due to weight,” Anaheim police Lt. Tim Schmidt told Los Angeles Times.
Tokyo scrambled jets to counter Chinese airplanes that flew close to Japanese airspace, defense officials said. An information-gathering plane and two Chinese bombers were picked up by the Japanese flying over the East China Sea in international airspace on Sunday. China and Japan are currently embroiled in a bitter territorial row over a group of island in the East China Sea known as the Senkakus to the Japanese and the Diaoyus to the Chinese.
Clashes between Shiite Muslim insurgents and Sunni tribesman in Yemen’s al-Jawf province have killed at least 30 people over the last two days, the local governor told Reuters. The Shiite fighters are reportedly trying to cement their position in the North through the attacks. Governor Mohammed bin Aboud told local television that the Presidential Commission had to intervene to stop the bloodshed.
A suicide bomber in a vehicle stuffed with explosives detonated at a crowded checkpoint at the northern entrance to the city of Hilla, south of Baghdad, killing 12 civilians and police officers and wounding over 60 people. Dozens of cars gathered at the control point have been damaged. In 2014, violence in Iraq continued after 2013 had become the bloodiet year in the modern history of Iraq. In March alone more than 120 people have been killed, while since the beginning of the year more than 1,850 have died in a new wave of violence.
A North Korean-flagged tanker began loading oil at a rebel-seized port at Es Sider terminal in eastern Libya, Reuters cited port and oil officials as saying on Saturday. Earlier, the Libyan government threatened to bomb the tanker if it tried to export oil from the port, marking an escalation in the fight for the country’s oil reserves. "The loading has started," a port worker said and a spokesman for state-run National Oil Corp (NOC) confirmed. Rebels who took control of three major Libyan ports in August are demanding more autonomy.