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Aiming to uphold a tradition An archer dressed in a traditional Japanese warrior’s attire shoots an arrow Monday during New Year’s Shinto ritual ceremony of archery at Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo.

AP PHOTO
VIENNA Iran invites nuke check

Iran has invited Russia, China, the European Union and its allies among the Arab and developing world to tour its nuclear sites, in an apparent move to gain support ahead of a new round of talks with six world powers.

In a letter made available Monday to The Associated Press, senior Iranian envoy Ali Asghar Soltanieh suggests the weekend of Jan. 15 and 16 and says that meetings “with high-ranking officials” are envisaged.

While no reason was given for the timing of the offer, it comes just weeks before Iran and the six powers follow up on recent talks that ended with agreement on little else but to meet again.

WASHINGTON Firms may resume drilling

Thirteen companies whose deepwater drilling activities were suspended last year may be able to resume drilling without detailed environmental reviews, the Obama administration said Monday.

The companies — they include Chevron USA Inc. and Shell Offshore Inc. — will be allowed to resume work at previously drilled wells, as long as they meet new policies and regulations, officials said.

The decision is a victory for the drilling companies, which in the past had routinely won broad waivers from rules requiring detailed environmental studies.

After the disastrous BP spill in April, the Obama administration pledged it would require companies to complete environmental reviews before being allowed to drill for oil.

A federal report said the moratorium probably caused a temporary loss of 8,000 to 12,000 jobs in the Gulf region.

BERLIN Germany denies spy work

Germany’s aerospace center denied Monday that it is working with the U.S. on a $270 million high-tech secret spy program, insisting that its plans for a high-resolution optical satellite have purely scientific and security uses.

U.S. State Department cables obtained by WikiLeaks and revealed by Norwegian daily Aftenposten say Germany joined a partnership with the U.S. to create a satellite spying program that was presented as a commercial enterprise, but is actually run by the German intelligence service and the German Aerospace Center, DLR.

German Aerospace Center spokesman Andreas Schuetz said that such a project for a high-resolution optical satellite has been in discussion for the past two years under the name HIROS.

JERUSALEM Party threatens pull-out

A top leader of Israel’s Labor Party threatened Monday to pull out of the government if there is no progress in peace talks, reflecting growing impatience with the stalemate in negotiations with the Palestinians.

An exit by Labor, a moderate party sitting uncomfortably alongside hawks in the ruling coalition, could undermine Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s parliamentary majority and force an election.

That would sideline Mideast peace efforts for months.

The latest round of talks was launched in early September, but broke down just three weeks

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