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Main news of January 17

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A roundup of what has happened in the past 24 hours

WORLD

* The Latvian authorities have placed Moscow ex-mayor Yury Luzhkov, who earlier requested a Latvian residence permit, on a blacklist of people whose presence in the country is 'undesirable,' the Latvian interior minister said

* The Russian and Iranian leaders agreed to continue discussions on the Islamic republic's controversial nuclear program, ahead of the resumption of UN talks

* Russia is interested in helping Jordan build its first nuclear power plant, an aide to President Dmitry Medvedev said, ahead of the Russian leader's visit to the Middle Eastern country

* Azerbaijan is working to thwart efforts by the OSCE Minsk Group to resolve the Nagorny Karabakh issue, an Armenian government spokesman said

* Leaders of four Ukrainian opposition parties are in talks on uniting into one big opposition force intended to counterbalance the existing "leftist" opposition of Yulia Tymoshenko, the Kommersant-Ukraina daily said

* Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev has signed into law the ratification of a Russian-Kazakh space cooperation agreement, the government press service said

RUSSIA

* The construction of a third oil platform for the Shell-led Sakhalin II energy project may threaten a critically endangered population of gray whales off Russia's eastern coast, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said

* The Russian opposition leaders Boris Nemtsov and Eduard Limonov said they would continue spearheading protests in Moscow, two days after they were released from prison

* A criminal case into the deaths of Tsar Nicholas II and his family has been closed, the lawyer representing the Romanov family said

BUSINESS

* The Russian and British oil giants Rosneft and British Petroleum (BP) plan to start drilling in the Arctic's Kara Sea in 2015, Rosneft's vice president said

* Russia's car production jumped by an estimated 92.6 percent over the previous year in 2010 to 1.15 million cars, the Trade and Industry Ministry said in its annual report

* Mexico's second largest airline, Interjet, signed a $650 million deal with Superjet International to buy 15 regional Sukhoi Superjet 100 planes

* The supervisory board of VimpelCom has approved a revised deal to merge with Wind Telecom, belonging to Egyptian tycoon Naguib Sawiris, to create the world's sixth largest telecommunications firm, despite opposition from the Russian company's core shareholder Norway's Telenor, VimpelCom said

* Rosneft stock rose 3.43 percent at the start of trade on Moscow's MICEX stock exchange in reaction to news late on Friday that Rosneft had struck a deal with BP to swap 9.5 percent of its capital for 5 percent of BP

*Russia's Severstal, one of the world's leading steel and mining companies, will hold an Initial Public Offering of its wholly-owned indirect subsidiary Nord Gold N.V on the London Stock Exchange, Severstal said

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