Peter Kenyon

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Leaked excerpts from an interview with Iran's foreign minister have ignited controversy inside the Islamic Republic. The comments by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad-Zarif were never intended to be broadcast, but officials say more than three hours of the seven-hour interview were leaked on Sunday.

The excerpts first appeared on Iran International, a London-based channel that Tehran views as a hostile, pro-Saudi Arabia outlet.

ISTANBUL — Clubhouse, the invitation-only app billed as "a space for casual, drop-in audio conversations," has attracted users from many parts of the world.

Not everyone is a fan: the Anti-Defamation League says the app's lack of moderation has attracted extremism and hate speech.

But in Iran, Clubhouse has begun to catch on.

Updated April 24, 2021 at 12:37 PM ET

For decades, U.S. presidents have avoided calling the World War I-era mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turkish forces an act of genocide.

President Biden made that declaration on Saturday as Armenians mark the anniversary of the atrocities.

ISTANBUL — After a weekend visit to Tehran by Rafael Grossi, Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the agency and Iran announced their agreement to keep some verification activities going for the immediate future.

Iran had previously announced that, as of Tuesday, Feb. 23, it would suspend snap inspections by IAEA inspectors. Such unscheduled visits were seen by some as an effective means of verifying that Iran wasn't pursuing a clandestine nuclear weapons program.

Updated at 11:30 a.m. ET

The United States and Iran remain at odds over what comes next in their standoff over Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Iran's supreme leader said Sunday that all U.S. sanctions must be lifted before Tehran will return to its commitment under the 2015 nuclear deal. And, in an interview airing Sunday, President Biden said the United States won't lift sanctions first.

In a move likely to increase tensions during President Trump's final weeks in office, Iranian semi-official media are reporting Tehran is enriching nuclear fuel to 20% purity. Separately, Iran seized a South Korean oil tanker in the Persian Gulf, South Korea's Foreign Ministry said Monday.

Tensions between Turkey and France are rising, as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan calls for a boycott on French good and slams French President Emmanuel Macron's call for a "French Islam."

The increased friction follows the beheading of a teacher in France after he showed his class caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad published by the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Thousands of people attended prayers at Istanbul's historic Hagia Sophia on Friday, completing the famous building's conversion from a secular space into a Muslim house of worship. It had been a museum for more than 86 years.

The crowd was large with people spilling outside and into a plaza and grassy areas near the sixth century building that is revered by both Muslims and Christians. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sat front and center, removing a white face mask to recite passages from the Quran as he sat on a blue carpet.

Updated at 2:15 p.m. ET

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has ordered the Hagia Sophia museum, one of Istanbul's most famous landmarks, to be converted into a mosque.

He made the announcement on Friday, hours after a top court cleared the way for him to make the change.

The Hagia Sophia, a major draw for tourists, has a long and complicated history. The architectural marvel was built as a church by the Byzantines in the 6th century and then converted to a mosque after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453.

The bad coronavirus news continues for Iran, but officials are hoping a modest downturn in the growth of new cases will become a trend.

Iranian state television reported Thursday that 1,030 new cases had been confirmed and 90 people had died since Wednesday. That brought the total number of fatalities in Iran to 5,481, continuing Iran's status as the Middle Eastern country hardest hit by the virus. But the new daily case numbers are lower than previous days, raising hopes that Iran may be turning the corner in its fight against the virus.

Workers in protective gear are handing out boxes of free medical masks on the street. Bakery trucks roam neighborhoods, delivering bread. Turkish officials plainly grasp the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic, at home and abroad: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says his government has sent medical equipment and supplies to 34 other countries so far.

But some worry that the government may be putting lives at risk.

The coronavirus pandemic has shuttered shops and battered financial markets around the world. In Turkey, where COVID-19 has so far killed two people and infected nearly 200, schools, universities and many businesses are closed, and large gatherings such as Friday prayers at mosques have been suspended.

Even so, one sector is experiencing a boom. Sales of Turkish-made cologne are skyrocketing. And it's not because people are worried about how they smell.

The woman had had enough. She turned and stormed out of Dr. Rodmanish Pharmacy, before NPR could ask her name.

"No masks, no gloves," she fumed. "They don't have anything here!"

Similar scenes have played out in pharmacies across Iran's capital of Tehran. The outbreak of the new coronavirus has sent Iranians scrambling to avoid becoming another statistic in a country with more deaths from the disease than any besides China.

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The United States military and Kurdish militias were allies for five years fighting against ISIS. Now that has changed. President Trump unexpectedly pulled U.S. troops from near the Syria-Turkey border, and the Kurds were left to fend for themselves.

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