Main news of March 17

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RUSSIA

* Russian president-elect Dmitry Medvedev told top United States officials that the two countries need to work to overcome their disputes and build a more stable relationship

* Russia's Foreign Ministry condemned a march by Waffen SS veterans in Riga, the capital of Latvia

* Russia's decision to lift sanctions against Georgia's unrecognized republic of Abkhazia does not mean Russia will supply weapons to the conflict zone, a Russian deputy foreign minister said

* A U.S. AMC-14 satellite launched from a space center in Kazakhstan on early Saturday is unlikely to reach the designated orbit from its current position, a Russian space expert said

* Annual spending on combat training in Russia's Strategic Missile Forces has increased five-fold since 2004, an SMF spokesman said

WORLD

* Over 100 people have sustained injuries in clashes between ethnic Serbs and police in northern Kosovo, Belgrade-based media said

* An uneasy calm has settled over the capital of Tibet as a deadline for protestors demonstrating against Chinese rule to surrender to authorities approaches amid conflicting reports of deaths

* Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said his country would continue to build homes in a disputed area of east Jerusalem, in a move that is certain to further complicate the Palestinian-Israeli peace process

* Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said:

- Iran views a new UN resolution on additional economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic as "unfair," but is willing to continue close cooperation with the IAEA

- Iran signed a natural gas export contract with a Swiss energy group

* The separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) said it was ready to discuss a ceasefire with Turkish authorities if they were willing to negotiate, the Turkish newspaper Milliyet said

* Ukraine wants to discuss with Russia the issue of raising tariffs for the storage of Russian gas and its transit to Europe in 2009, the fuel and energy minister said

* Only 11.1% of Ukrainians polled in a survey published said they supported the country's drive to join NATO, while almost 36% said they would vote against the plans if a referendum were held

BUSINESS

* Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his satisfaction with the development of the country's banking sector

* Russia's industrial output grew 7.6% in February year-on-year while manufacturing industries showed 11.2% growth, the economics minister said

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