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Main news of August 30

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RUSSIA

* The Russian Prosecutor General's Office released two suspects in the murder of investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya, a source close to the investigation said

* Naval exercises being held off Russia's Far East coast are defense-oriented and pose no threat to any neighboring Asian state, a Navy official said

WORLD

* Taliban insurgents released the seven remaining Korean Christian volunteers held hostage since July 19 in central Afghanistan, witnesses said

* Following recent media reports that U.S. astronauts have on occasion flown drunk, NASA will consider instituting limited testing of flight crews and employees, NASA Director Michael Griffin said

* Serbs and Kosovars agreed at separate negotiations with the 'troika' of international mediators to abstain from provocations at talks on the status of Kosovo, a European mediator said

* Italian police have detained 40 suspected Mafia members from two struggling clans, accused of involvement in a shootout that led to the death of six Italians in Germany, local media said

* India is looking to export military hardware, including Russian-Indian cruise missiles, taking advantage of lower production costs at home, a Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) official said

* The Israeli Foreign Ministry is set to begin talks on dropping the visa requirement for Russian tourists, a ministry spokesman said

* The European Commission is set to consider a series of barriers to Russian energy companies wishing to enter the European market, the Financial Times reported

* Russian-U.S. talks on a replacement for the START-I arms reduction treaty will be held in early September in Rome, a high-ranking Russian Foreign Ministry disarmament official said

* Israeli servicemen detained a 15-year-old Palestinian teenager, who they suspect of being a suicide bomber, the Israeli Army said

* Belgrade is drafting various options of response to a scenario in which Kosovo unilaterally declares its independence, Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica said

* Russia's ambassador in Baku slammed what he called a cynical and incompetent article in an Azerbaijani paper, which implied Russia orchestrated a building collapse that killed at least 16 and injured eight people

* Iran welcomed a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency's director general, Mohamed ElBaradei, on the Iranian nuclear program

BUSINESS

* A Russian Finance Ministry source said a proposal had been submitted to the government on clearing a $343.3 million debt for 1998 U.S. agricultural loans early to save on interest

* LUKoil, Russia's largest independent crude producer, intends to raise oil and gas output by 4% year-on-year in 2007, CEO Vagit Alekperov said

* Russian natural gas giant Gazprom should only be granted licenses to develop new oil and gas fields through competitive bidding, Natural Resources Minister Yury Trutnev said

* Vneshtorgbank (VTB), Russia's second largest state-owned bank, is planning to extend a government-secured $500 million loan to Angola, bank's press service said

* Subsidiaries of Russia's LUKoil reduced oil exports by 3% year-on-year in January-June 2007 due to larger refining volumes in Russia, the company said

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