Main news of December 18

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A roundup of what has happened in the past 24 hours

WORLD

* Russia and the United States will finalize a new strategic arms reduction treaty in the near future, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Friday at a meeting with his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama

* The number of swine flu deaths worldwide has exceeded 10,000, the World Health Organization (WHO) said

* A cargo plane originating from North Korea with a cache of illegal weapons was seized solely by Thai intelligence and security agencies, National Security Council secretary general Thawil Pliensri said

* Dozens of world leaders will be arriving in Copenhagen on Friday for the final day of United Nations talks on climate change

* Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has met with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri in Copenhagen, where he arrived on Thursday in order to take part in the UN climate change conference

* At least 20 people were rescued from a ship, which sank off northern Lebanon on Thursday, the German DPA news agency said

RUSSIA

* A Kremlin aide described on Friday the ongoing UN climate change Copenhagen conference as unsuccessful, but said there was still a chance a declaration could be adopted

* Russia should focus on production line shipbuilding, rather than one-of-a-kind projects, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said

* Russia's environmental regulator approved on Friday the construction of its leg of the Nord Stream gas pipeline to be built in the country's Baltic Sea waters, the project operator said

* Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Friday Russia was ready to sign a new legally binding climate treaty

* Russia's lower house of parliament passed on Friday a law on state regulation of commerce, setting tougher anti-monopoly requirements, in the third and final reading

* RIA Novosti, the Ekho Moskvy radio station and Izvestia newspaper have launched a new historical investigation project, headlined "Attention, History"

* Sapsan, Russia's first train capable of travelling at a speed of 250 kmph (155 mph), made its first commercial run between Russia's two largest cities in a record time of 3 hours and 45 minutes

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