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Main news of March 24



* Russia backs the move toward Palestinian unity made by Fatah and Hamas, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement

* Deliveries of the first Sukhoi Superjet 100 medium-range passenger aircraft have been postponed indefinitely over test delays, the head of the United Aircraft Building Corporation said

* President Vladimir Putin has appointed the new economics minister as EBRD governor for Russia, the Kremlin press office said

* Russian companies are prepared to become more closely involved in the reconstruction and modernization of Iraq's economy, primarily in the energy and oil and gas sectors, the Russian president said

* Russia will more than double production of conventional weaponry by 2015, a first deputy prime minister said

* Russia will provide humanitarian aid to crisis-hit Serb areas of Kosovo in line with a request from the Serbian government, outgoing president Vladimir Putin said

* The leader of a Russian doomsday sect holed up in a cave in central Russia has been charged with inciting religious hatred, an assistant to the local prosecutor's office said

* Four people were injured in a bomb blast in Nazran, a city in Russia's North Caucasus Republic of Ingushetia, a spokeswoman for the local interior ministry said

* Deliveries of the first Sukhoi Superjet 100 medium-range passenger aircraft have been postponed indefinitely over test delays, the head of the United Aircraft Building Corporation said

* A seven-year-old girl lost both legs when a rail car hit her as she crawled over the tracks in Taganrog in southern Russia, the regional railway press service said

* Russia expects the Greek and Turkish Cypriots to restart peace talks under the aegis of the UN, the Foreign Ministry said

* Guus Hiddink, the Russian national soccer team's Dutch trainer, signed a new contract with the Russian Football Union (RFU) on Monday, an RFU spokesman said


* The flame for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, China, was lit in the small southwestern Greek town of Olympia

* Turkey announced a tender for the construction of the country's first nuclear power plant, to be built near Akkuyu Bay on the Mediterranean coast

* The Armed Forces of the unrecognized Georgian republic of Abkhazia began planned military mobilization exercises with up to 4,000 soldiers and reservists participating

* Belgrade has presented the UN with a proposal for the segregation of Kosovo into ethnic Serb and Albanian enclaves, national media said

* The parliamentary speaker of the breakaway Georgian republic of Abkhazia said the recognition of Abkhaz independence was directly linked to Georgia's accession to NATO

* Iran has lodged a bid to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) that comprises Russia, China and four ex-Soviet Central Asian states, the country's foreign minister said

* The ex-wife of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Cecilia Ciganer-Albeniz, married a Moroccan-born public relations executive at a private ceremony in downtown New York

* Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak arrived in Moscow on a three-day visit set to focus on Mideast conflicts and a nuclear power deal with Russia

* The Georgian Foreign Ministry said the Russian parliament's recent statement on the recognition of Georgia's breakaway republics was direct interference in the country's internal affairs


* Russia's economics ministry raised its 2008 forecast for the annual average price of Urals oil, a benchmark blend, by 16% to $86 per barrel, a high-ranking ministry official said

* Russia's gross domestic product is expected to grow by around 7% in 2008, the World Bank said

* Russia's Finance Ministry has proposed that the country's $1.3 billion Soviet-era debt to South Korea be paid off ahead of schedule, a government source said

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