News in Brief

Sochi Blast Injures 2

An explosion injured two people in the Black Sea resort of Sochi hours after President Vladimir Putin met U.S. President George W. Bush at his villa on the outskirts of the city.

News agencies Monday initially quoted a law enforcement source as saying a bag left outside a cinema had exploded on Sunday, severely injuring a policeman.

Police later said in a statement that the policeman, who was offduty, and a friend had set off the blast themselves by playing with a grenade. (Reuters)

China Happy With Hotline

BEIJING -- China on Monday hailed a new military hotline with Russia as a sign of strengthened cooperation, in sharp contrast to sluggish efforts to set up a similar link with Washington.

The hotline with Moscow "reflects the level of political trust and strategic coordination between the two countries," state media cited Chinese Defense Minister Liang Guanglie as telling Viktor Zavarzin, the visiting chairman of the State Duma's Defense Committee. (AP)

Azerbaijan Election Date

BAKU, Azerbaijan -- Azerbaijan will hold presidential elections Oct. 15, the country's top election official said Monday.

Central Elections Commission chief Mazakhir Panakhov said the date was set by the constitution.

Incumbent Ilham Aliyev, who succeeded his father Heidar in a 2003 election that was denounced by opponents as a sham, is expected to run again.

Isa Qambar, the leading candidate among the country's fractured opposition groups, is also expected to run, along with candidates from small parties. (AP)