BBC news 2013-10-17

BBC News with Julie Candler

US congressional leaders have struck a deal to end a partial government shutdown and avert the government defaulting on its debts. The agreement was reached between Democrats and Republicans in the Senate, and the White House has called on both houses of Congress to move swiftly to approve it. From Washington here's Rajini Vaidyanathan.

After weeks of wrangling, a deal has been agreed, which would end the partial government shutdown and extend America's borrowing limit, allowing it to continue to pay its bills. The proposal drawn up by Democrats and Republicans would fund the US government until January next year and extend borrowing through to February. The final hurdles have yet to be cleared. Votes are expected in both the house and Senate this evening.

The White House has reacted positively to the latest round of talks in Geneva between Iran and world powers on its nuclear programme. It said Iran's proposal had a level of seriousness in substance that the US had not seen before. Reading an unprecedented joint statement with the Iranians, the European Union representative Catherine Ashton said the sides would reconvene on 7 November. Scientific experts would meet before then to discuss practical steps. The Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif expressed hope the discussions would be the start of a new phase in relations.

"We had two days of extensive and fruitful conversations with the E3+3, which will hopefully be the beginning of a new phase in our relations towards closing an unnecessary crisis and opening new horizons."

A passenger plane belonging to Lao Airlines has crashed in the south of Laos near the border with Thailand. There were not reports of survivors. Jonathan Head reports from Bangkok.

A spokesman of the Thai foreign ministry said it had been informed by Lao Airlines that all 44 passengers on board Flight QV301 died when the aircraft crashed while attempting to land at Pakse airport. The airline has issued a statement saying the plane went down in extremely bad weather conditions and expressing its condolences to friends and families of those on board. According to airline sources, the aircraft, a French-Italian made ATR-72, was delivered to the airline only this year. Thai officials say that most of those on board were foreigners...