News in Brief

Helicopter Crash Delivery

A Russian woman delivered a healthy baby shortly after surviving a helicopter crash in Arctic Russia.

The Mi-8 helicopter crashed while carrying the pregnant woman to a maternity clinic in the Yamal-Nenets autonomous district above the Arctic Circle, Interfax reported Tuesday. The woman was quickly picked up by another helicopter and carried to a maternity clinic where she delivered a healthy boy, the reports said.

The Emergency Situations Ministry said the helicopter carrying a crew of three and six passengers was flying from the town of Tazovsky but crashed shortly before it arrived at the town of Antipayuta. It said all on board survived without any serious injuries. (AP)

Lavrov Wants Conference

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia hoped to host a Middle East peace conference in the next three months.

A conference could serve as a follow-up to the summit held in Annapolis, Maryland, in November, Lavrov told Ekho Moskvy radio Tuesday. He refrained from giving any specific details on possible timing of the event.

"I expect it will happen in the first half of the year," Lavrov said without elaboration.

He said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas would travel to Moscow next week for talks related to holding the conference. (AP)

Georgia Slams Rebel Ties

TBILISI, Georgia -- Georgia on has complained to the Russian ambassador in Tbilisi about friendly ties between Moscow and the rebel Georgian province of Abkhazia.

Moscow sent Abkhazia a letter asking it to repatriate 35 Russian nationals now in an Abkhaz prison.

"We'd like to draw the attention of the international community to another provocative step from Russia over Abkhazia," the Georgian Foreign Ministry said in a statement Tuesday.

"The Russian Justice Ministry's letter should be regarded as a part of Russia's destructive policy aimed at legitimization of separatist regimes and their complete economic, legal and political integration into Russia," the statement said. (Reuters)