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Main news of July 8

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RUSSIA

* Russia's Foreign Ministry said that Moscow would be forced to respond to U.S. plans to place a missile defense radar in the Czech Republic, after the two sides signed an agreement earlier in the day

* Russia submitted a draft resolution to the UN Security Council on the situation in Georgia, amid escalating tensions in the country's breakaway regions, Russia's envoy to the UN Vitaly Churkin said

* Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev said talks with his U.S. counterpart George Bush yielded little progress on key controversial issues, but both sides said they were willing to continue discussions

*  Russia and Japan have failed to make progress on the territorial dispute over the Kuril Islands, a Kremlin aide said after a meeting between Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev and the Japanese PM Yasuo Fukuda

* A top Russian general,  Lt. Gen. Yevgeny Buzhinsky, denounced U.S. proposals intended to soothe Russian concerns over a proposed U.S. missile shield in Central Europe as vague saying they contain too many unacceptable conditions

* Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev voiced alarm over the United States' increasing tendency to seek military solutions to political problems, in an appeal to presidential candidates

* The Russian president's desire for an improvement in relations with Britain does not mean that Moscow will review its position on a series of disputes that have soured bilateral ties of late, a senior lawmaker, Konstantin Kosachev, said

* Russia's top investigators said they have made substantial progress in investigating the 2006 killing of a Russian security service defector in London, and rejected claims of the Kremlin's role in his death

* Over 20 combat and auxiliary ships from Russia's Pacific Fleet started a large-scale naval exercise in the Sea of Japan, which includes live firing drills, a fleet spokesman said

* Russia's chief sanitary official, Gennady Onishchenko, criticized a new law that allows motorists to drive after drinking small amounts of alcohol

* More than 20 Russian regions from Moscow to Vladivostok celebrated the Day of Married Love and Family Happiness

WORLD

* Leaders of the G8 group of industrialized nations adopted at a summit in Japan a joint statement :

- on joint efforts to fight a growth in global food prices;

- expressing strong concerns about the sharp rise in oil prices, and calling for concerted efforts;

- setting a goal of halving carbon emissions by mid-century, but developing nations and top environmentalists dismissed the agreement as meaningless;

- saying their countries will meet commitments they made three years ago to boost aid to Africa.

* The G8 leaders welcomed North Korea's move in late June to submit information on its nuclear program and called on the country to give up its nuclear ambitions

* U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg signed an agreement on the deployment of a missile-tracking radar on Czech soil, the CTK news agency reported

* Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that the U.S. was currently incapable of launching an attack on the Islamic Republic, Iranian national media reported

* Iranian forces launched military exercises in the Persian Gulf as speculation over a possible Israeli or U.S. attack on its nuclear facilities grew, Iranian TV said

* Four Georgian officers detained in the Georgian-South Ossetian conflict zone were released amid preparations by Tbilisi for a police operation to free them, the breakaway Georgian republic announced

* Georgia's breakaway republic of South Ossetia said that Tbilisi has evacuated around 300 children from ethnic-Georgian areas of the province, and accused the country of preparing an invasion

* Georgia's breakaway republic of Abkhazia will never agree to a U.S. proposal to replace Russian peacekeepers currently serving in the region with an international police force, Abkhaz Foreign Minister Sergei Shamba said

* Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko signed orders dismissing two high-ranking officials from over the Independence Day blast that left injured 50 people in central Minsk

* The Serbian parliament approved a new government, comprising former rivals, the pro-Western Democratic Party and the Socialist Party

* Somali pirates, who seized a German cargo vessel in May, have released the crew after a ransom was paid, a Ukrainian newspaper reported

* The Church of England's governing body voted in favor of the ordination of women bishops, with over 1,000 members threatening to leave the Church over the issue

BUSINESS

* Italian energy company Eni signed contracts to supply gas to power plants in Russia's Urals region, a sale and purchase debut for a European firm on the Russian downstream gas market

* Severstal [RTS: CHMF], Russia's largest steel producer, said it had finalized a deal to buy 100% of U.S.-based WCI Steel's shares for $140 million

* Russia's second-largest mobile phone operator, VimpelCom, said it had signed an agreement on setting up a joint venture in Vietnam

* Ukraine's national oil and gas company Naftogaz dismissed as groundless a Swiss gas trader's claims of a $2 billion natural gas debt

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