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Russia takes a softer tone on missile deployment

BERLIN – Russia seems to be testing the ground for a shift in policy, which could emerge at the annual Munich gathering on security policy that two years ago was the forum used by then-President Vladimir Putin to take a much harsher tone with the West and announce Moscow's hard-nosed return as a force in international affairs.

Putin's methods

In our country the fight against terrorism is called a "special operation". Most often these "operations" take place in Khasavyourt, a city in Chechnya's neighboring Republic of Dagestan.

Obama takes note of budget deficit but promises decisive action

WASHINGTON – President-elect Barack Obama took sober note Wednesday of a stunning projection by the Congressional Budget Office for a $ 1.2 trillion federal budget deficit this year, then warned that without decisive action, "trillion-dollar deficits will be a reality for years to come. "

EU tries to stay neutral as Russia reduces gas flow to Ukraine

PARIS – As Russia puts the latest tightening twist on the gas valve to Ukraine on Monday, Europe steadfastly refused to become the arbitrator in a price dispute in which both sides have weaker hands than in a similar standoff three years ago.

EU seeks truce – and a bigger role

LONDON – Spurred on by France, Europe is seeking to fill the diplomatic vacuum in the Middle East left by the outgoing US administration, sending two missions to try to broker a cease-fire in Gaza and offering more humanitarian aid.

Climate change conference hampered by US political change

POZNAN, Poland – As ministers from 189 countries gather here to hammer out a new climate change treaty, progress is sorely hampered by the absence of one delegation: the team that will forge Barack Obama's climate policy.

Ahead of new nuclear talks, North Korea lashes out at Japan

SEOUL – As representatives from five regional powers converged in Beijing on Sunday to join what is possibly the Bush administration's final major effort to revive a nuclear disarmament deal with North Korea, Pyongyang vowed to ignore Japan at the talks.

The EU proposes deeper ties to 6 ex-Soviet nations

BRUSSELS – Seeking to extend its reach into Russia's backyard, the European Union on Wednesday proposed deeper ties with six former Soviet nations, even suggesting it could embrace Belarus, often described as the continent's last dictatorship.

A court for a new America

THE HAGUE – Of the many issues that have soured relations between Europe and the United States under the Bush administration, few have been as poisonous as America's refusal to join the world's first permanent war crimes court here. The snub has been seen as a symbol of US contempt for the rule of law.

French police treatment of journalist raises free-speech issues

PARIS – The police treatment of a journalist accused of libel, who was dragged from his home in front of his young sons, has raised questions about freedom of speech in France and the tactics employed by the police and the judicial system here.

German general breaks silence on Afghanistan

BERLIN – Breaking with a military tradition of keeping silent about policy, a top German general has branded his country's efforts in Afghanistan a failure, singling out its poor record in training the Afghan police and allocating development aid.

Dalai Lama gets top rating in survey on world leaders

PARIS – The Dalai Lama is the most respected world leader among Western Europeans and Americans, a poll being made public Friday shows, while Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany does the best job of combining respect with worldwide influence.

Thai army chief advises prime minister to quit

BANGKOK – The head of Thailand's Army urged the country's prime minister Wednesday to step down and call elections as he appealed to protesters who have paralyzed the country's main international airport for two days to cease their demonstrations and leave the terminal.

Climate expert urges EU to take action

BRUSSELS – The European Union should agree on a strong package of measures to tackle greenhouse gas emissions even if that means making special concessions to satisfy reluctant countries like Poland, according to Nicholas Stern, one of the world's foremost authorities on climate change.

Shifting to multilateralism

WASHINGTON – Though President-elect Barack Obama has yet to clarify his Iraq strategy, we can be sure of one thing: He will want Europe to do more.

EU governments agree to overhaul its system of farm subsidies

BRUSSELS – European Union governments agreed Thursday to overhaul the way the bloc distributes tens of billions of euros in subsidies to farmers. But some said the measures did not go far enough and risked skewing markets.

Villepin ordered to stand trial in French smear case

PARIS – Former Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin will stand trial on criminal charges of complicity in an alleged smear campaign that targeted Nicolas Sarkozy before he was elected president, a judicial official confirmed Wednesday.

Emerging nations are seen as economic lifesavers

BARCELONA – The United States may have plunged the world into a sharp economic downturn, but it will take the combined efforts of China and other emerging nations to lead the global economy out of what is likely to be a long and painful recession.

Europe and US move towards cooperation with China on product safety

BRUSSELS – The European Union and the United States on Monday sought to bind China to international product safety controls when the three trading partners discussed consumer scares ranging from contaminated Chinese milk to dangerous toys.

Google and Europe at odds over privacy

BERLIN – When Google began hiring in Zurich for its new engineering center in 2004, local officials welcomed the US company with open arms. Google's arrival is still bearing fruit for Zurich: 450 employees, about 300 of them engineers, work in Google's seven-story complex in a converted brewery on the outskirts of the placid mountain metropolis.

Echoes of The Cold War in Russia's new stance

BERLIN – The Poles have had their ups and downs with the Bush administration. But one thing Warsaw succeeded in obtaining was an agreement to base parts of the Pentagon's controversial antiballistic missile system in Poland.

Merkel looks to Hesse before Germany votes

BERLIN – German conservatives led by Chancellor Angela Merkel are getting an unexpected chance to retake the state of Hesse – one of the biggest of the 16 German states, and home to Frankfurt, center of the country's banking – months before the 2009 national election.

EU says it will talk to Russia

BRUSSELS – The European Union took a significant step Monday toward normalizing ties with Moscow strained by Russia's military campaign in Georgia, announcing that it would resume a set of negotiations put on ice after the August war.

Threats of revenge as 3 executed for Bali bombings

JAKARTA – Hours after the executions of three men for their roles in the Bali bombings of 2002, nearly a thousand Islamic radicals shouted "God is great" in Arabic and threatened revenge as the bodies of two of the men arrived in their hometown of Tenggulun in East Java on Sunday.

North Korea releases flurry of reports on Kim

SEOUL – North Korea's state-run media has released a flurry of reports of public appearances by the country's reclusive leader, Kim Jong Il, in what analysts on Thursday called an effort to demonstrate to his people and the outside world that he is firmly in control despite widespread rumors of ill health.