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Main news of August 31



* Turkey and Armenia have agreed at talks mediated by Switzerland to start "internal political consultations" on establishing diplomatic relations, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said

* The captain of a Turkish oil tanker seized by Georgia in mid-August has been sentenced by a Georgian court to 24 years in custody for customs violations, Georgian border police said

* Turkmenistan will find that opening a military base on the Caspian Sea is easier said than done, Fyodor Lukyanov, editor-in-chief of Russia in Global Affairs magazine, said

* With 43.81% of ballots counted in last week's presidential elections Afghanistan's incumbent president, Hamid Karzai, is ahead with 1,317,121 votes, the country's Central Election Commission said

* Russia is set for constructive cooperation with Japan's new government after the longtime opposition overwhelmingly won Sunday's parliamentary elections, the Russian Foreign Ministry said

* The swine flu virus has claimed the lives of over 2,900 people worldwide, Russia's trade and sanitary inspection authority said on Monday, citing data from World Health Organization regional bureaus

* Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso announced on Monday he would resign as chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party following the party's crushing defeat in Sunday's general election

* The Discovery space shuttle has docked with the International Space Station (ISS), delivering more than seven tons of cargo and a new crew member, NASA said

* Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez starts on Monday an 11-day foreign trip that will take him to Russia, Belarus, Syria, Algeria, Libya and Iran


* Investigators started a preliminary probe on Monday into the recent bursting of a dam in Russia's Far East, in which at least one person was killed, a regional investigation spokesman said

* One of two militants killed in a shootout with security forces in the Russian North Caucasus republic of Dagestan late on Sunday was an Algerian-born member of al-Qaeda, a security official told RIA Novosti

* Another body has been retrieved at the site of a recent Siberian hydropower plant disaster, bringing the official death toll to 73, a source at the dam said


* General Motors' plant in St. Petersburg resumed work on Monday after a two-month halt, while Ford Russia suspended production at its plant in nearby Vsevolozhsk through September 11

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