News in Brief

Putin in Surprise Trip



President Vladimir Putin will consider next week a proposed framework for a merger of Russia and Belarus into a single state, officials said Thursday.

The unexpected move raised speculation that Putin might seek to become leader of the new country created by the merger. Belarus' presidential office said Putin would attend a meeting on Dec. 13 and 14 in Minsk that would focus on a draft constitution of the Russia-Belarus Union. It gave no details.

Officials downplayed suggestions that the meeting might lead to a surprise announcement. (AP)




For the Record



President Viktor Yushchenko on Thursday nominated Yulia Tymoshenko to be Ukraine's prime minister. (AP)

President Vladimir Putin has been invited to attend a summit of South American presidents in Uruguay on Dec. 17 and 18. (AP)