News in Brief

Poland Open to EU Talks



WARSAW -- Poland hopes to agree with its European Union partners to resume the bloc's frozen talks on a cooperation pact with Russia, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said Thursday.

Warsaw's previous conservative government blocked strategic partnership negotiations between Brussels and Moscow in mid-2007 over a Russian ban on Polish food imports, as well as over energy security issues.

"I see no big problems in working out a negotiating mandate within the EU, and Poland will certainly not be an obstacle to the lifting of the veto," Tusk said in an interview. (Reuters)




Jets Scramble for Bomber



SEOUL, South Korea -- U.S. and South Korean fighter jets scrambled to turn back a Russian bomber that approached a U.S. aircraft carrier during training exercises, South Korean and U.S. officials said Thursday.

The Russian plane flew close to the USS Nimitz in waters off South Korea's eastern coast Wednesday but retreated shortly after the fighter jets approached, a South Korean military official said on condition of anonymity, citing policy.

The Russian Navy confirmed that a Tu-142 aircraft flew over the U.S. carrier, calling it a routine mission over the open sea. (AP)




U.S. Assured on Cease-Fire



WASHINGTON -- A senior U.S. diplomat said he had received assurances from both Armenia and Azerbaijan that they had returned to a cease-fire along the border of the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, after shooting broke out in recent days.

After a meeting Wednesday in Baku with Azeri President Ilham Aliyev, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza headed to Armenia on Thursday to try to encourage talks between the government and opposition who are alleging fraud in last month's election. (AP)




Uzbekistan, U.S. Reach Deal



Uzbekistan will allow U.S. nationals to use its Termez air base under strict conditions, almost three years after ordering out U.S. troops in a dispute over human rights.

Robert Simmons, NATO's envoy for the Caucasus and Central Asia, said Wednesday that Uzbekistan had agreed to allow limited numbers of U.S. staff to use the facility near Afghanistan, which was once used by Soviet forces and currently operated by Germany. (Reuters)




Kadyrov Loses Union Card



The Union of Russian Journalists kicked out Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov on Thursday, a day after its Chechen branch admitted him for his role in "promoting press freedom."

The union overturned the regional branch's decision to admit Kadyrov because he is not a professional journalist, according to a statement on its web site. (Bloomberg)