- - Tuesday, January 25, 2011

RUSSIA

Parliament ratifies arms pact with U.S.

MOSCOW | Russia’s lower house of parliament on Tuesday ratified a landmark nuclear-arms pact with the United States that was earlier been approved by the U.S. Senate.

The State Duma voted 350 to 96, with one abstention, to pass a ratification bill of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START). The treaty now will go to the upper house for final approval.

The New START would limit each country to 1,550 strategic warheads, down from the current ceiling of 2,200 and also re-establish a system for monitoring that ended with the expiration of a previous arms-control pact.

The treaty’s passage has never been in doubt in the Kremlin-controlled parliament, but Russian lawmakers wanted to counter a U.S. Senate resolution that accompanied its December ratification with a similar motion.

TUNISIA

Thousands rally, as U.S. urges reform

TUNIS | The United States said Tuesday it hoped the Arab world would tackle reforms after the “example” of the Tunisian uprising as thousands of people rallied here to call for radical change.

“I certainly expect that we’ll be using the Tunisian example” in talks with other Arab governments, said Assistant Secretary of State Jeffrey Feltman, the first senior foreign envoy to visit Tunisia since this month’s uprising.

“The challenges being faced in many parts of the world, particularly in the Arab world, are the same, and we hope people will be addressing these legitimate political, social, economic grievances,” he told reporters.

Mr. Feltman, who met with Tunisian ministers and civil society figures during his visit, also said that only free and fair elections would strengthen and give credibility to the North African state’s embattled leadership.

HAITI

Government candidate to quit presidential race

PORT-AU-PRINCE | Haiti’s government-backed candidate will withdraw from the presidential race, a party colleague said Tuesday, opening the way for a solution to a destabilizing electoral dispute in the Caribbean island state.

The withdrawal of Jude Celestin, candidate for the ruling INITE coalition of outgoing Haitian President Rene Preval, would allow opposition candidate and popular musician Michel Martelly to move into a second-round runoff vote.

This was the recommendation advanced, with strong backing from the U.N. and Western donors, by a team of Organization of American States (OAS) experts who had challenged preliminary results from the chaotic Nov. 28 elections that put Mr. Celestin, not Mr. Martelly, in the runoff.

FRANCE

Memorial to be built for deported Jews

PARIS | An abandoned railway station outside Paris will be turned into a memorial for the tens of thousands of French and other European Jews who were deported from the site to death camps during World War II, an official said Tuesday.

The French national rail network, known as SNCF, is giving the former station in the Paris suburb of Bobigny to local officials as part of an agreement to create the memorial there.

SNCF last year for the first time expressed “sorrow and regret” for its role in the deportation of Jews during World War II.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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