News in Brief

Bush Thanks Putin



President George W. Bush made farewell phone calls to global leaders Monday as he prepared to leave the world stage after eight years in office.

Bush spoke with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak, Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said. Bush "expressed his gratitude for the kind hospitality all these leaders showed him and Mrs. Bush over the years," Johndroe said. He did not describe the content of the conversations.(Bloomberg)




Ship Loses Timber

LONDON -- A Russian-registered ship has lost its cargo of timber and was floating in rough seas off the south coast of England, British authorities said Monday.

About 1,500 metric tons of timber was knocked off the deck of the Sinegorsk on Monday morning, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said. The ship was leaning to one side and trying to make it to the English city of Portsmouth, the agency said.

British coast guard spokesman Fred Caygill said 25 crew members were aboard but that there was no immediate need for them to evacuate.(AP)




No Kyrgyz Base Closure

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan -- The U.S. regional military chief said Kyrgyzstan's government did not discuss the possibility of evicting a U.S. airbase from the Central Asian country during his visit on Monday.

A source close to Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev's office said last week that the country was preparing a statement announcing the closure of the base, a key U.S. staging post for its operations in nearby Afghanistan.

But U.S. Central Command chief General David Petraeus, visiting Kyrgyzstan as part of a regional tour, said there was no talk of closure during his meetings with the government.

Petraeus said the two had discussed boosting cooperation and the U.S. aid programs for the impoverished country. (Reuters)




Opposition Leader Released



BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan -- A Kyrgyz court on Monday released opposition politician Omerbek Tekebayev, who was detained last Saturday and charged with organizing an illegal protest.

"The court has issued a warning to me for trying to arrange an unsanctioned rally," Tekebayev, head of the opposition Ata Meken party, said by telephone from the northern Talas region, where his party had been due to hold a conference.

Tekebayev said he faces no further charges for organizing the protest.

Tekebayev, long at odds with Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, has sharpened his criticism of the authorities over past months and used difficult economic times, caused by a global financial crisis, to unite the opposition.

Kyrgyzstan has been volatile since 2005, when Bakiyev came to power after mass rallies toppled his long-serving predecessor. (Reuters)




Moldovan Poet Vieru Dies



CHISINAU, Moldova -- Moldovan poet Grigore Vieru, admired for his courage in promoting Romanian, the country's native language, when Moldova was a Soviet republic has died. He was 73.

Vieru died Sunday in a hospital in Chisinau, Moldova's capital. He had been in a car crash there Friday.

Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin declared Tuesday a day of national mourning.

Vieru was born in 1935 in a rural village in northeastern Romania, five years before that part of the country was annexed by the Soviet Union under a Nazi-Soviet pact, becoming the Socialist Republic of Moldova.

"Other people dream of traveling to outer space," Vieru said in 1973, when he traveled for the first time to what remained of Romania. "I have always dreamed of crossing the Prut." The River Prut forms the border between Moldova and Romania. He is survived by his wife and two sons.(AP)

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