Main news of February 5

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RUSSIA

* Russia launched a Soyuz-U rocket carrying a cargo spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan, a Mission Control spokesman said

* Russia has agreed to bring forward the arrival date of observers from Europe's top election monitoring body prior to the country's March 2 presidential polls, its Central Election Commission (CEC) said

* Russia has called on Iran to freeze uranium enrichment until key issues in its nuclear program have been cleared up with the IAEA, Sergei Kislyak, a Russian deputy foreign minister, said

* Russia and Venezuela are at the final stage of talks on a deal to sell three Kilo-Class Project 636 submarines to Venezuela's Navy, which could be clinched in April, Vedomosti business daily said

* Russia's Supreme Court upheld a decision by election authorities to bar opposition candidate Mikhail Kasyanov from running in the March 2 presidential election

* The health of jailed former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who is now in his eighth day of a hunger strike, is "satisfactory," a prison official said

WORLD

* At least six militants were killed in an Israeli air strike on southern Gaza, local hospital sources saidAt least six militants were killed in an Israeli air strike on southern Gaza, local hospital sources said

* A spokesman for Iran's government gave assurances that the country's achievements in space technology and research pose no threat to peace and stability in the world

* In his 2009 FY budget proposal, U.S. President George W. Bush requested $719.8 million to deploy elements of the U.S. missile shield in Europe

* Reports emerged saying Chadian rebels had agreed on a ceasefire to end three days of hostilities, but authorities insisted they had defeated the insurgents with no such deal reached

* Ukraine's President Viktor Yushchenko signed an agreement with the World Trade Organization opening the way to the country's WTO membership

* The European Union backed the deployment of an EU police and justice mission to Kosovo to replace the current UN mission

* Around two million Colombians around the world took to the streets in protest at FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) demanding the release of hostages and an end to kidnapping, media reported

* A total of 37 people, including 20 children, have frozen to death in east Afghanistan's Ghazni province in the past 24 hours, the provincial governor said

* North Korea has broken the pledge it made last year to halt all nuclear activities, the director of the United States intelligence service said

* Islamist militant group Hamas claimed responsibility for a suicide bomb attack in the southern Israeli city of Dimona which killed one woman

* Russia's Foreign Ministry said Moscow welcomes the start of negotiations between rival political factions in Kenya, and urges the sides to end the ongoing violence


BUSINESS

* Stroytransgaz, one of Russia's largest engineering and construction companies, said it had started building the second natural gas processing plant in north-central Syria

* A record 14.9 million metric tons (109 million barrels) of crude were produced off Sakhalin Island in the Russian Far East in 2007, the regional statistics service said

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