Main news of December 21

A roundup of what has happened in the last 24 hours


* The German government and parliament are ready to discuss Russia's proposals on European security, a German MP said

* Russian President Dmitry Medvedev arrived in Turkmenistan to hold talks on cooperation in the fuel and energy sphere with his counterpart President Gurbaguly Berdymukhamedov

* The trial of John Demjanjuk, charged with involvement in the murder of 27,900 people as a death camp guard during WWII, resumed in Munich on Monday, local media reported

* The withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, expected in about a year's time, will hardly stabilize the situation in the country, a former Russian prime minister said

* Russian President Dmitry Medvedev urged Israelis and Palestinians to follow the roadmap of the Middle East peace settlement and give up unilateral actions

* The international community should put pressure on Israel to resolve the Middle East conflict and prevent an "explosion" of tensions in the region, a Russian MP said

* President Hugo Chavez has accused the United States of flying a spy plane into Venezuelan airspace, and warned that any further intruders will be shot down

* The international conference headlined "Middle East 2020: Is the Comprehensive Settlement Possible?" began late on Sunday in Jordan

* Polish police have found the stolen Arbeit macht frei iron sign at the entrance to the Nazi-era Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland, a police spokesman said

* Russian experts are convinced that the international community would fail in its efforts to keep the Middle East nuclear-free, according to a report prepared for an international conference in Jordan

* Tehran is ready to cooperate with the international community on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament issues, the IRNA news agency has said citing the country's chief nuclear negotiator


* Problems in relations between the Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches in Russia have been resolved but the two churches' leaders cannot yet meet, a Russian Church representative said

* Russian Prosecutor General Yury Chaika has canceled the order to fire top Moscow investigator Anatoly Bagmet and instructed Alexander Bastrykin, Chaika's first deputy, to decide on Bagmet's further duties

* Poor repairs to a generating unit contributed to the August tragedy at a Siberian hydropower plant, lawmakers said, citing a parliamentary commission's findings

* Russia's Foreign Ministry has condemned Georgia for its demolition of a WWII memorial in Georgia, in which two people died, calling it a provocation to the international community



* Iran plans to boost oil output 30% to 5.15 million barrels a day and almost double gas output to 1.111 billion cubic meters a day by 2015, the Iranian state channel Press TV said

* The official dollar rate set by the Russian Central Bank for December 22 is 30.5529 rubles, down 16.58 kopeks, the Central Bank said



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