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WORLD -- Iran: Mothers can visit three jailed hikers

Iran: Mothers can visit three jailed hikers

TEHRAN, Iran -- Iran will allow the mothers of three Americans arrested along the Iraqi border in July to visit them in a Tehran prison, the foreign minister announced Monday, saying the decision was made on humanitarian grounds.

It was the first positive signal from Iran in a case that has exacerbated tensions between the two countries that were already high due to the standoff over Iran's accelerating nuclear program and criticism of its crackdown on postelection protesters.

During their nine months in jail, Iran has accused the Americans of espionage but has not brought them to trial or even made clear if formal charges have been filed. In February, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad proposed swapping them for Iranians he says are jailed in the U.S., raising fears that the three are being held as bargaining chips.

UK's Brown to resign as PM

LONDON -- British Prime Minister Gordon Brown made a dramatic bid to keep his beleaguered Labour Party in power after it was punished in elections last week, announcing Monday he will resign by September at the latest even if the Liberal Democrats -- being wooed by the Conservatives -- decide to join his party in government.

The political theater, played out in front of the iconic black door of No. 10 Downing Street, comes as David Cameron's Conservatives -- which won the most seats in Parliament but fell short of a majority -- struggled in their attempts to win over the third-place Liberal Democrats.

White House optimistic on Afghan war

WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration sought Monday to smooth over past differences with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who arrived here on a four-day mission to convince Americans that his country is not a lost cause.

At a White House news conference, Karl Eikenberry, the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, acknowledged that relations with Karzai have been shaky.

''But what measures true partnership is the ability, when the stakes are as high as they are for Afghanistan and the United States of America, to be able to work our way through difficulties and come back together and still find ourselves well aligned,'' Eikenberry said.