Diplomacy with Iran must be backed up by US military might, Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel said Saturday in a speech to Gulf allies anxious over a nuclear deal with Tehran. Hagel promised the United States would maintain a 35,000-strong force in the Gulf region, as well as an armada of ships and warplanes, despite the recent accord with Tehran. Speaking at a security conference in Bahrain, he said the interim deal with Iran to roll back its nuclear programme was a risk worth taking, but that Western diplomacy should not be "misinterpreted". The Pentagon "will not make any adjustments to its forces in the region -- or to its military planning -- as a result of the interim agreement with Iran," he added.
Milan's La Scala opera house opens its 2013/2014 season on Saturday with a performance of Giuseppe Verdi's "La Traviata" on the 200th anniversary of the composer's birth. Milan has been seized by a "fever" in anticipation of the performance and even the mayor's office is using an aria from "La Traviata" as its call-waiting tone. Giant screens have been put up around the city to relay the opera live and there will be screenings in cinema across Italy and in other parts of the world. Conductor Daniele Gatti said "La Traviata" was "a gift from heaven" while Russian producer Dimitri Tcherniakov said he was amused by the "agitation" over the work.