Supporters of winning Iranian presidential candidate Hasan Rowhani, former Iranian nuclear negotiator, chant slogans, as they hold a banner containing pictures of Rowhani, center, former Presidents Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, right, and Mohammad Khatami, during a street campaign, in Tehran, Iran, earlier this week. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- There are wild celebrations on the streets of Tehran after reformist-backed Hasan Rowhani (hah-SAHN' roh-HAH'-nee) capped a stunning surge to claim Iran's presidency on Saturday.
His election throws open the political order after relentless crackdowns by hard-liners to consolidate and safeguard their grip on power.
Tens of thousands of jubilant supporters have been chanting "Long live Rowhani."
Security officials have made no attempt to rein in crowds -- joyous and even a bit bewildered by the scope of his victory with more than three times the votes of his nearest rival.
In his first statement after the results were announced, Rowhani said that "a new opportunity has been created ... for those who truly respect democracy, interaction and free dialogue."
But in Iran, even landslides at the ballot box do not equate to policymaking influence.
All key decisions remain solidly in the hands of the ruling clerics and their powerful protectors, the Revolutionary Guard. But Rowhani's victory does reopen space for moderate and liberal voices.
PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) -- North Korea's top government body is proposing high-level nuclear and security talks with the United States days after a planned meeting with rival South Korea collapsed.
The National Defense Commission said Sunday that the talks should ease tensions and achieve peace and security on the Korean Peninsula.
North Korea has issued a series of angry statements since U.N. sanctions were imposed after a December rocket launch and a February nuclear test. There have been threats of nuclear war by the North, followed by South Korean vows of counterstrikes.
Outside analysts say North Korea often expresses interest in talks after raising tension with provocative behavior in order to win outside concessions.
Washington's top worry is North Korea's nuclear weapons program. Pyongyang is estimated to have a handful of crude nuclear devices.
Navalny aims to run for Moscow mayor
MOSCOW (AP) -- Alexei Navalny, the anti-corruption crusader who has spearheaded opposition to Russian President Vladimir Putin, plans to run for mayor of Moscow.
Navalny, one of the leaders of the anti-Putin demonstrations that rose up in late 2011, submitted documents to register his candidacy on Saturday, Russian news agencies cited the city elections commission as saying.
He was nominated by the liberal opposition RPR-Parnas party on Friday, saying he was entering the Sept. 8 election "to pull our city from the tentacles of Putin."
Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin resigned last week, forcing a snap election in which he likely will be returned.
Sobyanin was appointed by then-President Dmitry Medvedev in 2010. Russia later restored mayoral direct election.
The early election could undermine challengers who may struggle to organize campaigns on short notice.
CAIRO (AP) -- Egypt's Islamist president says he is cutting off diplomatic relations with Syria and has ordered that Damascus Embassy in Cairo to be closed.
Mohammed Morsi told thousands of supporters in a rally held on Saturday that his government is also withdrawing the Egyptian charge d'affaires from Damascus.
The president's decision comes amid growing calls from hard-line Sunni clerics in Egypt and elsewhere to launch a "holy war" against Syria's embattled regime.
Morsi also called on Lebanon's Hezbollah militant group to leave Syria, where the Iranian-backed Shiite group has been fighting alongside troops loyal to embattled President Bashar Assad against the mostly Sunni rebels.
Syrian troops capture Damascus suburb near airport
BEIRUT (AP) -- Syria's state news agency is reporting that government forces have captured a suburb of Damascus near the capital's international airport.
SANA says troops killed several rebels and destroyed their hideouts in the Ahmadiyeh area on Saturday, two days after a mortar round landed near the airport's runway and briefly disrupted flights.
A local rebel commander who identified himself by his nickname, Abu Hareth, for fear of government reprisals, said soldiers and rebels have been fighting sporadically in the area since late Friday. He said two rebel fighters have been killed there since.
Ahmadiyeh is part of a region known as Eastern Ghouta, where government forces have been on the offensive for weeks.
MOSCOW (AP) -- Russia's foreign minister says the evidence put forth by the United States of chemical weapons use in Syria apparently doesn't meet stringent criteria for reliability.
The Obama administration said this week that it will give lethal aid to Syrian rebels in light of evidence that President Bashar Assad's forces used chemical weapons in the country's civil war.
In Moscow, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Saturday that the material does not include guarantees that it meets the requirements of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
He said the organization specifies that samples taken from blood, urine and clothing can be considered reliable evidence only if supervised by organization experts from the time they are taken up to delivery to a laboratory.
ISTANBUL (AP) -- Riot police in Turkey have cleared protesters out of Istanbul's Taksim (tahk-SIHM') Square and neighboring Gezi (GEH'-zee) Park, firing water cannons and tear gas.
The action came shortly after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (REH'-jehp TY'-ihp UR'-doh-wahn) warned that security forces "know how to clear" the area, which had become a symbol of the biggest anti-government protests in decades.
For over two weeks, protesters had defied the prime minister's warnings to disperse.
Within a half-hour, the sweep by white-helmeted riot police had emptied the park, leaving a series of colorful, abandoned tents behind. Bulldozers moved in afterward, scooping up debris as crews of workmen in hard hats and fluorescent yellow vests tore down the tents. Protesters put up little physical resistance, even as plain-clothes police shoved many of them to drive them from the park.
BAGHDAD (AP) -- An audio message purporting to be from the leader of al-Qaida's Iraq arm has him rejecting an order by top al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri to scrap a merger with the terror network's Syria affiliate.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi heads al-Qaida's Iraq arm, known as the Islamic State of Iraq. In a message posted online Saturday, a speaker identified as him insists that a merger he previously announced with Syria's Jabhat al-Nusra rebel group to create a cross-border movement known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant will continue.
Al-Nusra is Syria's most powerful rebel extremist group, and its head has rejected the takeover attempt. Al-Zawahri this week tried to end the squabbling and ordered the two groups to stay separate.
Al-Baghdadi is now defying that command.
US-bound Egyptian plane diverted after threat
LONDON (AP) -- British officials say a plane en route from Cairo to New York was diverted by fighter jets to an airport in Scotland after a passenger discovered a letter threatening the aircraft.
No arrests have been made and authorities are trying to ascertain who wrote the note which forced EgyptAir Flight 985 to make an emergency landing at Glasgow's Prestwick Airport.
The jet, carrying around 300 passengers to JFK Airport, was met by a heavy police presence and stayed on the tarmac for several hours before passengers were able to disembark, at which point officers searched the plane.
The BBC says one of its producers discovered the note in a lavatory. Written in pencil on a napkin were the words "I'll set this plane on fire" and what appeared to be a seat number. The producer says after discovering the note by the sink, she alerted cabin crew who then locked the toilet.
Police are trying to determine where the note came from, who put it on the plane and under what circumstances.
Arrangements for onward travel will be made once all passengers have been interviewed.
Strong earthquake reported off Nicaragua coast
MEXICO CITY (AP) -- There's word of a strong earthquake off the Pacific coast of Nicaragua.
There are no immediate reports of damage or injuries, but Nicaragua's seismological institute has declared a tsunami alert as a precaution because of the earthquake's strength.
The Nicaraguan agency measured it at magnitude 6.6, while the U.S. Geological Survey put it at 6.5.
The U.S. agency says the quake was centered about 31 miles west of the Masachapa, a community located on Nicaragua's Pacific coast.
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