07:45 GMT +319 September 2018
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    Main news of October 18

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    RUSSIA

    * Russian President Vladimir Putin has set another historic record of 3 hours and 5 minutes during an annual televised question-and-answer session, during which he said:

    - Russia will continue to develop both nuclear and conventional components of its armed forces

    - Recent talks between Russia and the U.S. showed Washington is trying to reach a compromise with Moscow over plans to deploy missile shield elements in Europe

    - the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was mainly aimed at controlling the Gulf state's oil reserves

    - Russia has the means and strength to safeguard its interests, domestically and abroad

    - the pro-presidential United Russia party is necessary to maintain parliament's effectiveness and current policy direction

    - Moscow is ready to cooperate with any Ukrainian government formed after the September 30 election results are officially validated

    - he is against introducing Internet censorship in Russia's domain

    * Russia has successfully test-fired an RS-12 Topol intercontinental ballistic missile from the Plesetsk space center, a spokesman for the Strategic Missile Forces said

    * Russia and India have closed a deal to jointly develop a fifth-generation fighter plane, a spokesman for the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation said

    * Direct broadcasts from Russian government sessions held on Thursdays will be banned, the head of the government press office, Alexander Zharov, said

    * The Russian Foreign Ministry said charges have been brought against Russian businessman Alexander Trofimov, accused of the sexual abuse of underage girls in Cambodia

    * Georgian media are conducting a massive campaign to discredit Russian peacekeepers in the zone of the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict, a Russian Army official said

    * Alexei Kudrin, Russian vice-premier and finance minister, said he had been appointed to head a government commission on Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization

    * The Russian State Duma issued a statement calling on UN member countries to condemn the U.S. economic blockade of Cuba

    WORLD

    * Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto returned to her home country after eight years of self-imposed exile, to be greeted by vast crowds of supporters

    * Some 40,000 strong Turkish troops comprising helicopter, artillery and special forces units are ready to launch a full-scale operation against Kurdish militants on the Iraqi border, Turkish media reported

    * The Elysee Palace confirmed reports of a divorce between French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife Cecilia

    * An Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said the latest statement by the U.S. president over Iran's nuclear program threatened global security

    * Four Palestinians have been killed and more than 30 injured in clashes between the Hamas-controlled security forces and members of a Fatah-affiliated clan in the Gaza Strip, local media said

    * Nadege Brunacci, a 38 year-old New York resident, found a two-meter (7 foot) python in her toilet, the Daily News newspaper said

    * Two of the three Russians trapped in India's Himalayas have died in heavy snow, and one has been rescued, a senior official in the state of Uttarakhand said

    * Thousands of Parisians had to cycle or walk to work during the Thursday morning rush as a strike by French transport workers paralyzed the public transport system

    * The Ukrainian "orange" coalition announced on Thursday that it intended to continue a policy aimed at integration into NATO and the EU while maintaining equal and neighborly relations with Russia

    * Henry Kissinger, a former U.S. state secretary, said Russia's proposal that the U.S. use its radar station in Azerbaijan was constructive but would not force Washington to cancel its missile defense plans

    * Moscow called on Warsaw not to politicize existing differences but resolve them through professional and constructive negotiations, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman said


    BUSINESS

    * Russia's United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) said it intended to hold an initial public offering on Russian bourses in late 2009 and early 2010 to the sum of $1-1.5 billion

    * Russia will soon change its World Bank status from that of borrower to donor, the bank's president, Robert Zoellick, said

    * Russia's sole liquefied natural gas plant, being built as part of the Far East Sakhalin II, will increase annual capacity by 7 million metric tons, the regional governor said

    * Inflation in Russia will reach 10% in 2007, Alexei Kudrin, a deputy prime minister and finance minister, said

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