News in Brief

Rice Meets New Ambassador

WASHINGTON -- Moscow's new ambassador to Washington paid a courtesy call on U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and the two were expected to discuss Georgia, an issue straining U.S.-Russian ties.

Sergei Kislyak, formerly deputy foreign minister and Russia's point man on Iran, and Rice already "know each other well," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said ahead of the Tuesday meeting. (Reuters)

Belarus Breaks Up Rally

MINSK -- Police in Belarus dispersed dozens of demonstrators in central Minsk less than two weeks before parliamentary elections that authorities have promised will be free and fair.

About 40 activists from the liberal and nationalist opposition staged on Tuesday what has become a monthly procession to demand explanations for the disappearance of opposition figures in the late 1990s. Within minutes, riot police pushed the unauthorized gathering's participants out of Minsk's October Square. (Reuters)

EU Praises Uzbeks on Rights

BRUSSELS -- France, which holds the rotating European Union presidency, has cited progress on human rights in Uzbekistan but said there was scope for further improvement, two months before EU sanctions on the country are due to expire.

The bloc imposed sanctions on Uzbekistan in 2005, including visa bans on top officials in response to the killing of demonstrators in the town of Andijan that May.

"It's a matter for council to debate. … But we do observe that progress has been made," French Secretary of State for European Affairs Jean-Pierre Jouyet told a news conference Tuesday after talks with Uzbek Foreign Minister Vladimir Norov. (Reuters)

Tymoshenko Blames Rival

KIEV -- Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko accused President Viktor Yushchenko of ruining the country's ties with Russia.

Ukraine should pursue a more "balanced" policy with its neighbor, Tymoshenko said Wednesday, a day after a coalition of parties loyal to Yushchenko and Tymoshenko collapsed. (AP)