Cameron seeks trade, new ties with Russia
LONDON — British Prime Minister David Cameron arrived in Moscow on Sunday trying to secure crucial new trade and warmer ties with an often difficult ally, some five years after the poisoning death of a Kremlin critic in London revealed bitter differences.
Mr. Cameron is making the first visit to Russia’s capital by a British leader in six years, and will hold the first talks by any British official with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in more than four years - hoping to revive relations ahead of the ex-president’s possible return to power in a 2012 election.
Accompanied by Foreign Secretary William Hague and business executives, including oil giant BP’s chief executive Bob Dudley, Mr. Cameron will attempt on the two-day visit to increase trade with another awkward partner after similar trips to India and China.
Mr. Cameron wants to kick-start Britain’s stagnant economy by targeting emerging markets, but the policy has caused concern among those who fear it may lead Britain to overlook the human rights records of new allies.
Ties between Britain and Russia soured over the 2006 poisoning death of dissident ex-Russian security agent Alexander Litvinenko in London. On his deathbed, Litvinenko accused Mr. Putin of authorizing his killing.
Russia repeatedly has refused British requests for the extradition of the chief suspect in the case, ex-KGB agent Andrei Lugovoi.
British government officials acknowledged Mr. Cameron would raise the issue, but said the leader’s visit would be focused on businesses opportunities - knowing there is little prospect of progress on the Litvinenko case.
Swedish police arrest 4 terror suspects
STOCKHOLM — Swedish police arrested four people on suspicion of preparing a terror attack and evacuated an arts center in Sweden’s second largest city on the eve of the 9/11 anniversary, officials said Sunday.
The four were arrested in the west coast city of Goteborg and were suspected of plotting terrorism, said Sara Kvarnstrom, spokeswoman for the Swedish security police, SAPO.
She declined to give details on the arrests and wouldn’t say whether they were linked to the 10-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.
Ms. Kvarnstrom said SAPO saw no reason to raise its terror alert level, which has been at “elevated” since October.
“Our assessment is that there is no reason for public concern at the moment,” she told the Associated Press.
Police in Goteborg said in a statement they had evacuated the Roda Sten arts center, located beneath the city’s landmark half-mile Alvsborg bridge, due to a threat deemed to pose “serious danger for life, health or substantial damage of property.”
Officials announce new property tax
THESSALONIKI — Greece’s cash-strapped government said Sunday that it would impose a new property tax on top of existing austerity measures in order to combat a revenue shortfall.
The government also decided, in a symbolic move aimed at a public angry at politicians, to dock a month’s pay from all elected central and local government officials.
Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said the tax will be levied over the next two years and will cost citizens an average of $5.53 per 10.76 square foot.
Debt-crippled Greece urgently needs to keep a program of cutbacks on track to secure the continued flow of international rescue loans - worth $302.6 billion - protecting it from catastrophic bankruptcy.
Over the past 20 months, the Socialist government has cut pensions and salaries while raising taxes and retirement ages.
But its efforts to cut back while reviving a fast-contracting economy amid record unemployment have faltered, sparking new market distress.