Iran's foreign minister welcomed the United States' willingness to hold direct talks with Tehran in the standoff over its nuclear program but didn't commit to accepting the offer -- insisting that Washington must show "fair and real" intentions to resolve the issue and complaining about "threatening rhetoric." But Ali Akbar Salehi does not have the power in Iran to decide such matters on his own, so his comments were viewed by European and U.S. officials as designed for the trans-Atlantic audience at the Munich Security Conference.
French troops launched airstrikes on Islamic militant training camps and arms depots around Kidal and Tessalit in Mali's far north, defense officials said, as the first supply convoy of food, fuel and parts to eastern Mali headed across the country. French planes pounded extremist training camps as well as arms and fuel depots from Saturday night into the early hours of Sunday, according to French army Col. Thierry Burkhard.
Mexico's state-owned oil company says it has found two more bodies amid the rubble of a headquarters building damaged by a still-unexplained blast. The find raises the death toll of Thursday's explosion to 35 people. Petroleos Mexicanos operations director Carlos Murrieta said rescue crews believe several more bodies remained in the building's most damaged part.
South Korean and U.S. troops began naval drills Monday in a show of force partly directed at North Korea amid signs that Pyongyang will soon carry out a threat to conduct its third atomic test. The region is also seeing a boost in diplomatic activity focused on North Korea's announcement last month that it will conduct a nuclear test to protest international sanctions.
President Obama said that gays should be allowed in the Boy Scouts and women should be allowed in military combat roles, weighing in on two storied American institutions facing proposals to end long exclusions. The president's comments in a pre-Super Bowl interview on CBS come as Boy Scouts leaders are expected to discuss lifting the ban on gays at its national executive board meeting this week in Texas.LaPierre, Kelly debate background checks
The National Rifle Association's executive vice president continued to oppose background checks for all gun purchases despite polls indicating that most NRA members don't share his position. The NRA's Wayne LaPierre said on "Fox News Sunday" that background checks for all gun purchases would lead to a national registry of gun owners. Mark Kelly, a gun owner and husband of Gabrielle Giffords, the former Arizona congresswoman who survived a 2011 shooting, also appeared on the show and asked LaPierre to listen to his members. "Members of the NRA tend to be very reasonable on this issue," Kelly said. Kelly and LaPierre agreed on one point: More people seeking to buy guns illegally should be prosecuted.