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     WORLD

    * The Russian and U.S. presidents reaffirmed in a telephone conversation their commitment to drawing up a new strategic arms reduction pact by December, the Kremlin said

    * Former U.S. President Bill Clinton met with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il during a surprise visit to Pyongyang, aimed at securing the release of two American journalists arrested in March

    * Palestinians want to make peace with Israel but reserve the right to resist the occupation, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said at the Fatah movement's first congress in 20 years

    * Bolivian President Evo Morales has accused the United States of being behind the military coup in Honduras, Latin American media reported

    * The U.S. budget deficit has ballooned this financial year to exceed $1 trillion for the first time, the Treasury Department has announced

    * Ukrainian nuclear power plant operator Energoatom has delayed signing nuclear fuel deals with Russian state-controlled nuclear fuel producer TVEL, a Ukrainian newspaper reported

    * Moldova's central election commission confirmed the final results of early parliamentary polls, the country's election chief said

    * South Ossetian President Eduard Kokoity has dissolved the government as part of relieving the prime minister of his duties, the former Georgian republic's Communications Ministry said

    * NATO states will start in the Baltic states a series of air defense exercises involving Czech fighter jets, the Estonian Defense Ministry said

    * Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, ousted in a coup in late June, has said he will consider talks with interim leaders a "failure" unless he is reinstated in the next round of negotiations

    * With the anniversary of last August's five-day war between Russia and Georgia over South Ossetia just a few days away, events in the region are taking on an oddly familiar tone

    * A group of Egyptian researchers claims to have hit on an exact date for the construction of Khufu's pyramid, the largest of the three Great Pyramids at Giza

    RUSSIA

    * Russia has put its troops and border guards in South Ossetia on heightened alert over recent border provocations carried out by Georgia, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman said

    * Russia has tightened security on part of the border with China due to an outbreak of pneumonic plague in the Qinghai province

    * Russia is discussing the purchase of a French Mistral-class amphibious assault ship worth between 300 and 400 million euros ($430-580 mln), a high-ranking source close to the talks said

    *Russian authorities plan to destroy an island drifting in Estonian waters over threat to a Russian hydroelectric plant on the Narva Reservoir, Estonian media reported

    * The damage from a mid-July oil spill on the Volga River has been estimated at 14 million rubles (over $450,000), a spokesman for the Russian consumer watchdog Rospotrebnadzor said

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