- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 18, 2008

RUSSIA

Putin open to plan for U.S. relations

MOSCOW — President Vladimir Putin yesterday embraced a U.S. proposal to set an agenda on a range of problems that the next American and Russian leaders will face.

Mr. Putin, whose hand-picked successor, Dmitry Medvedev, is to take office May 7, told Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates that his nation is ready to accept portions of a proposed framework for often-troubled U.S.-Russian relations. He did not provide details.

Mr. Putin disclosed that he had received and analyzed a letter from President Bush, which a Gates spokesman said was meant to spell out an agenda for talks this week in Moscow and to propose that both sides agree on the fundamental issues for the future of their relationship.

ALBANIA

Defense chief quits after deadly blasts

TIRANA — Defense Minister Fatmir Mediu resigned yesterday, two days after a series of weapons depot explosions killed at least 15 persons, injured hundreds and littered the region with shrapnel and unexploded munitions.

At least 10 persons were still missing yesterday in the wake of the explosions Saturday and Sunday in the village of Gerdec, about six miles outside the capital.

U.S. military explosives specialists were helping rescue crews search for survivors, Defense Ministry spokesman Igli Hasani said.

NORTH KOREA

Pyongyang condemns U.S. broadcasts

SEOUL — North Korea accused U.S.-backed radio stations of broadcasting an increasing number of “provocative” programs criticizing Pyongyang, and called yesterday for an end to the transmissions.

The U.S.-financed Radio Free Asia and Voice of America have been broadcasting more shows condemning the North and aimed at toppling the communist regime, the Korean Central News Agency reported.

KENYA

Leaders accused in violence, seek aid

NAIROBI — On the day a global human rights watchdog accused politicians and police of helping orchestrate postelection violence in Kenya, the president and the top opposition leader joined to appeal for $400 million in emergency humanitarian and reconstruction aid.

President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga presented representatives of 40 embassies with an outline of the program.

Human Rights Watch yesterday accused pro-government and opposition politicians of helping finance and organize the violence and accused police of shooting hundreds of protesters.

THAILAND

Female tourists get safety whistles

BANGKOK — Female tourists visiting the Thai island of Phuket will be given whistles for emergencies, the Tourism Ministry said yesterday, two days after the slaying of a Swedish woman.

The whistles are part of a campaign to increase security at the popular tourist destination, after the killing of Hanna Charlotta Backlund.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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