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Main news of February 17


* Belgrade and Moscow reacted angrily to Kosovo's Western-backed unilateral declaration of independence as the region remained braced for clashes between Serbs and ethnic Albanians

* Georgia does not intend to recognize Kosovo's independence, and the issue is not on the agenda, a parliamentary spokesman for the former Soviet republic said

* A sounding rocket launched by Iran on February 4 as a preliminary step toward sending its first research satellite into orbit has transmitted data back to the country, national media said

* A section of a gas pipeline which exploded in the Russian northwest will be repaired within 24 hours, a local emergency service spokesman said

* Warsaw is likely to recognize the sovereignty of Serbia's breakaway province of Kosovo, Poland's parliamentary speaker told journalists

* Russian former WBA heavyweight champion Nikolai Valuev punched Belarusian Sergey Liakhovich into hospital in a bout on Saturday in Nuremburg, Germany, earning himself a chance to regain his title

* Greek Cypriots went to the polls in hotly-contested presidential elections seen as vital for future negotiations with the breakaway, self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus

* A Russian Federal Drug Control Service officer and his girlfriend have been killed in the country's southern Rostov Region, a regional law enforcement source told RIA Novosti

* At least 80 people have been killed and many injured by an explosion in the Kandahar province in south Afghanistan, national media reported

* Thousand of residents of Pristina, the capital of Serbia's breakaway province of Kosovo, have taken to the streets to celebrate the impending declaration of independence by the Albanian-dominated region

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