Main news of July 21

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RUSSIA

* The possible deployment of Russian strategic bombers in Cuba may be an effective response to the placement of NATO bases near Russia's borders, a former Air Force commander said

* Russia's prime minister gave an order to clarify the reasons for shortfalls in Russian oil deliveries to the Czech Republic, and to ensure uninterrupted supplies

* Robert Dudley, the head of the Russian-British joint oil venture TNK-BP, was granted a work permit valid until July 2009, but still needs to get his visa renewed to be able to work in Russia

* The main suspect in the murder of a top Russian banking regulator started a hunger strike after being placed in an isolation cell, a courtroom source said

* Almost 1,600 pigs were culled in Russia's North Caucasus Republic of North Ossetia, following an outbreak of the African swine fever virus (ASFV), the emergencies ministry said

* Moscow was chosen ahead of other Russian cities bidding to host the 2009 Eurovision song context, the prime minister said

WORLD

* British Prime Minister Gordon Brown warned Iran of new sanctions if it refuses to suspend its nuclear program, and condemned the Iranian leadership's threats directed at Israel

* Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem, on a visit to Beirut, confirmed his country's readiness to establish diplomatic relations with Lebanon

* A consignment of Russian fighter jets was shipped to Sudan from Belarus, in an apparent breach of a UN Security Council resolution banning arms sales to the African state, the Sudan Tribune said

* A Ukrainian opposition party prevented foreign warships participating in a NATO naval exercise from leaving the Black Sea port of Odessa, the Bratstvo (Brotherhood) press service said

* Russian officials met with WTO trade ministers, attending the ministers' meeting as observers, a spokesman for the country's economics ministry said

* Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Chinese counterpart signed an agreement on the handover by Russia of two border islands at a meeting in Beijing

* Georgia's Interior Ministry said four people had been arrested in the breakaway province of South Ossetia, following claims by local authorities that the men were abducted by Georgia

* German Chancellor Angela Merkel reassured Ukraine that it will eventually join NATO, and said no countries should influence its decision

BUSINESS 

* Iraq's investment committee is studying projects proposed by U.S. and Russian firms to turn Saddam Hussein's palace near the site of ancient Babylon into a tourist site with a casino, an Iraqi paper said

* Russia's leading uranium mining company Atomredmetzoloto, owned by state nuclear power corporation Atomenergoprom, said it intends to set up a joint venture with France's Areva

* Gazprom Neft said its net profit to U.S. General Accounting Standards increased 110% year-on-year to $1.41 billion in January-March

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