News in Brief

Ivanov Welcomes Arms Talks



Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov welcomed U.S. President Barack Obama's reported intention to renew nuclear arms reduction talks, Agence France- Presse said.

Russia is "undoubtedly" ready for talks with the new administration, AFP cited Ivanov as saying in an interview Wednesday.

The Times of London reported Wednesday that Obama aims to replace the 1991 U.S.-Soviet Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which expires in December. A proposed new accord would cut the number of atomic weapons Russia and the U.S. hold to 1,000 each, the newspaper reported, citing an unidentified U.S. official. (Bloomberg)




Missile Defense Vote Put Off



PRAGUE -- The Czech Republic's lower chamber of parliament has postponed a vote on a deal with Washington to accept a U.S. missile defense installation until at least mid-March.

Wednesday's vote was 100-73 to drop the issue from the agenda of the current parliamentary session, which ends March 15. It is unclear whether the new U.S. administration supports the deal brokered under President George W. Bush and disputed by Russia. (AP)




Tbilisi's OSCE Envoy Quits



TBILISI, Georgia -- Georgia's ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe resigned Wednesday in what Georgian media said was likely to be a defection to opposition ranks.

Viktor Dolidze's resignation came amid a push by the Greek OSCE chair to salvage its monitoring mission in Georgia from a dispute between Moscow and the West over its mandate in the wake of Georgia's five-day war with Russia last year.

But Georgian media reports suggested the decision was linked to internal politics and an opposition push to unseat President Mikheil Saakashvili.

Dolidze told Georgian television he had quit the Vienna-based European rights and security body and would explain why on his return to Tbilisi next week. (Reuters)