News in Brief

Good Review for Medvedev



Georgian leader Mikheil Saakashvili said in an interview published Monday that he believed President-elect Dmitry Medvedev was a man he could work with because they both share a similar post-Soviet mentality.

"We are people of the same generation and that is important," Saakashvili told Kommersant. "We are people of the generation that is not sorry for the breakup of the Soviet Union."

Saakashvili is a staunch U.S. ally and has steered Georgia toward NATO membership, angering Russia.

"The president-elect talks about real and not imaginary problems and that is very positive," he said. "In this respect, Russia and I are lucky." (Reuters)




Abbas Coming to Moscow



Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will travel to Moscow in April for talks on holding a Middle East peace conference, Interfax reported Monday.

Abbas aide Nabil Shaath said that Abbas will hold talks with President Vladimir Putin, President-elect Dmitry Medvedev and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on April 18, the report said.

Moscow offered to hold an Israeli-Palestinian peace effort conference after the summit held in Annapolis, Maryland, in November. Persistent violence between Israel and Hamas militants has made planning difficult.

Shaath was quoted as saying that May would be the best time to hold it but that a date would be set only after Abbas meets Lavrov. (AP)




Helicopter Crash Kills 3



OSLO -- A Russian helicopter crashed attempting to land on Norway's Svalbard islands in the Arctic, killing three, rescue officials said.

There were six other people on board the Mi8 helicopter, and they were taken to a local clinic for treatment after the crash Sunday, said Sten Rune Nikolaisen of the Norwegian rescue coordination center from northern Norway. The cause of the crash was not immediately known.

The crash occurred at a Russian mining settlement of about 400 people allowed on the Norwegian islands under a 1920 treaty that declares the archipelago an international zone open to all countries for nonmilitary activities. (AP)




Czechs May Announce Deal



PRAGUE -- During this week's NATO summit, Czech leaders may announce they are ready to sign a deal allowing Washington to build missile-defense installations on Czech territory, Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek said.

"I have information that the last problems have been perhaps cleared in the major treaty," Topolanek said, the Hospodarske Noviny newspaper reported Monday. "Nothing prevents us from stating at the NATO summit a possibility to sign it."

Hospodarske Noviny said the Czech-U.S. deal could be signed during a May 5 missile-defense conference in Prague, but Topolanek declined to confirm that.

Topolanek said any visit by Russian experts to the facility would have to be approved by the Czech side and that such a measure would have to be reciprocal. (AP)




Kosovo Aid on the Way



Russia will begin shipping humanitarian aid intended for Serb-populated areas of Kosovo this week, Interfax reported Monday.

President Vladimir Putin last week ordered the government to organize aid shipments after Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Serbia requested it.

The Emergency Situations Ministry said a plane would deliver 40 tons of aid, including baby food, to Belgrade on Wednesday, Interfax reported. There will be several flights, the report said.

Russia opposed Kosovo's Western-backed independence declaration and continues to call for a negotiated deal between Serbia and Kosovo's ethnic Albanian leadership. (AP)