News Balal was pardoned execution by the family of his victim

Samereh Alinejad stopped Balal Abdullah's hanging at the last moment

Sokratis Papastathopoulos (right) in action for Borussia Dortmund

World Cup 2014: Player profile - who is Sokratis Papastathopoulos, the Greece midfielder?

Counting down the 100 players to look out for in Brazil this summer

Javad Nekounam of Iran

World Cup 2014: Player profile - who is Javad Nekounam, the Iran midfielder?

Counting down the 100 players to look out for in Brazil this summer

Iranian Teacher Ali Mohammadian with 8-year-old Mahan Rahimi, in a photo taken before Mahan's classmates followed their teacher and also shaved their hair.

Iranian teacher who shaved his head in solidarity with an ill pupil who went bald becomes a national hero

Ali Mohammadian noticed his pupil was being bullied, and shaved his head to show his support

Browne: the secret report he wrote on the Iranian revolution became required reading at the Foreign Office

Sir Nicholas Browne: Britain's chargé d'affaires in Tehran who faced an angry mob following the fatwa issued on Salman Rushdie

Sir Nicholas Browne was targeted by an angry mob in Tehran in 1989 after the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for the killing of the author Salman Rushdie over his book The Satanic Verses. Browne, then the British chargé d'affaires, had to retreat with his staff to the inner rooms of the British embassy as the crowd, variously estimated at between two and ten thousand, hurled debris that smashed the building's windows, only a few yards away from the imposing black-painted outer gates adorned with the Royal Crest. He was forced to call for police protection, though no one was hurt.

The King by Kader Abdolah; book review

A boy enters a palace of a hundred rooms where an assassin may lurk behind every door and shadowy figures are reflected in a Hall of Mirrors.  An astonishing treasure lies at its heart, but powerful enemies are at the gates.

Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif at the World Economic Forum in Davos

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's focus on foreign affairs attracts criticism at home

Supporters fear that in securing Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s consent over a nuclear deal with the West in exchange for some relief from sanctions, he is left with no political capital for domestic reforms

Donald Macintyre's Sketch: William Hague swims around the fishy issue of Iran

To contrast the attitudes of the US Congress and the British Parliament, start with Iran. Today, the palpable welcome by MPs for Tehran’s suspension of high-level  uranium enrichment was matched only by anxiety about the UN excluding Iran from the Syria talks that start today in Switzerland.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks during press conference in Moscow on 17 January 2014. He has since called the UN's withdrawal of its invitation to the Syrian peace talks to Iran

Syria peace talks: Russian Foreign Minster says withdrawing Iran's invitation is 'a mistake, but not a catastrophe'

His words come after the UN offered Iran a place at Wednesday's meetings on Sunday, which had been withdrawn by Monday

Syrian opposition back out of peace talks after UN invites Iran to attend

‘Geneva II’ conference could be in jeopardy after UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon invites Iran to preliminary meeting

The eye of the storm: Speakes in the White House in 1982

Larry Speakes: Press secretary to Ronald Reagan who later admitted he had put words into the president’s mouth

An assassination attempt plunged Larry Speakes into the brightest of national spotlights as chief spokesman for President Ronald Reagan. When Reagan’s press secretary James Brady was severely wounded in the 1981 attempt on the president’s life, Speakes was thrust into the eye of the storm. As White House spokesman for six years, a long tenure in the sensitive post, he was credited with 2,000 news media briefings.

In today's relaxed Tehran, headscarves are being worn back from the face

Jack Straw: In Hasan Rouhani’s Iran, you can feel the winds of change

Ex-home secretary Jack Straw returns from a visit to Tehran convinced that it’s time for the West to rethink its relationship with the regime

A 2010 photograph showing an general view of the nuclear power plant in Bushehr, Iran

Iran agrees to daily inspections as it reaches interim nuclear deal with world powers

Decision sets clock running on six-month deadline for a final nuclear agreement, ending crippling sanctions

Deputy to EU foreign policy chief Helga Schmid arriving at the Intercontinetal Hotel in Geneva. Iran and world powers were set for new talks in Geneva on how to implement a landmark deal aimed at containing Tehran's nuclear drive

'Very good' progress made in nuclear talks between EU and Iran

But US says discussions are not over yet

Jack Straw has just returned from Tehran as part of 'well received' UK parliamentary delegation

Britain and US have had 'malign' influences over Iran, says former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw

Veteran politician has just returned from Tehran as part of 'well received' UK parliamentary delegation

Avon and Somerset Police has released this low-resolution image of Saber Haldari, who is wanted in connection with child sex offences in Bristol

Bristol man is 'significant risk to children' say police as they issue manhunt picture

Saber Haldari is believed to be in the country illegally

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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect