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Putin says annexation of Crimea partly a response to NATO enlargement

MOSCOW (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin on Thursday said Russia had been forced to respond to NATO enlargement and that its annexation of Crimea, home to its Black Sea Fleet, was partly influenced by the Western military alliance's expansion into eastern Europe. Putin said Moscow will respond if the United States moves ahead with plans to base elements of a missile defense shield in eastern Europe, accusing Washington of fuelling a Cold War-style arms race.

Croatia extradites ex-top spy to Germany

Croatia extradited a former Yugoslav spy chief to Germany on Thursday to face charges for the 1983 murder of a dissident on German soil. Zdravko Mustac, accompanied by German police, left the Croatian capital on a regular Lufthansa flight for Munich, the state-run HINA news agency reported. Germany was seeking the 72-year-old Mustac under the European Arrest Warrant (EAW), which regulates extradition between European Union member states.

Canada sends fighter jets to Eastern Europe

Canada is deploying six CF-18 fighter jets to Eastern Europe as part of NATO's response to the worsening crisis in Ukraine, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Thursday. Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Ukraine was on the brink of civil war, stoking fears of outright Russian intervention. NATO has increased air sorties and additional navy ships in the region as Ukrainian and pro-Russian forces face off.

NATO denies Putin's allegation Rasmussen secretly taped conversation

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - NATO dismissed as "complete nonsense" on Thursday an allegation by Russian President Vladimir Putin that NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen, in his previous role as Danish prime minister, had secretly taped and leaked a private conversation between them. "These accusations are complete nonsense. During his term in office as Danish prime minister, Mr. Fogh Rasmussen never brought a dictaphone to record meetings with Mr. Putin or anybody else," NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said in response to a query from Reuters.

NATO denies Putin's allegation Rasmussen secretly taped conversation

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - NATO dismissed as "complete nonsense" on Thursday an allegation by Russian President Vladimir Putin that NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen, in his previous role as Danish prime minister, had secretly taped and leaked a private conversation between them. "These accusations are complete nonsense. During his term in office as Danish prime minister, Mr. Fogh Rasmussen never brought a dictaphone to record meetings with Mr. Putin or anybody else," NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said in response to a query from Reuters.

Putin says annexation of Crimea partly a response to NATO enlargement

MOSCOW (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin on Thursday said Russia had been forced to respond to NATO enlargement and that its annexation of Crimea, home to its Black Sea Fleet, was partly influenced by the Western military alliance's expansion into eastern Europe. Putin said Moscow will respond if the United States moves ahead with plans to base elements of a missile defense shield in eastern Europe, accusing Washington of fuelling a Cold War-style arms race.

Massacre-scarred Algeria village votes for 'peace, that's all'

In a village scarred by one of the bloodiest massacres of Algeria's civil war in the 1990s, residents turned out for Thursday's presidential election to vote for "peace, that's all". The military-backed government's decision to cancel elections in 1991 that Islamists were poised to win sparked a decade of bloodshed, and the violence of the 1990s is never far from Algerians' minds.

UK 'will catch' killer of Libyan embassy policewoman

Britain's top police chief said Thursday he remained determined to catch the killer of policewoman Yvonne Fletcher, exactly 30 years on since she was shot dead from inside the Libyan embassy. Metropolitan Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe joined Fletcher's family, colleagues and friends in laying floral tributes at the spot in London's St James's Square where she fell on April 17, 1984. She was 25. More than 50 people held a two-minute silence at a service held by the memorial stone unveiled by then prime minister Margaret Thatcher in 1985.

Oil slick is not from missing Malaysian jet

An oil slick sighted during the sea search for a Malaysian airliner did not come from the plane, officials said Thursday, dashing hopes of finding a definitive answer to the fate of the jet. "Preliminary analysis of the sample collected by ADV Ocean Shield has confirmed that it is not aircraft engine oil or hydraulic fluid," Australia's Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC), which is organising the search, said in a statement. Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8 with 239 people aboard.

U.S. offers to cut tariffs on 99.5% of goods under TPP

The United States has proposed eliminating tariffs on 99.5 percent of goods imported from Japan, as it presses Tokyo to scrap tariffs even on agricultural products to clinch a 12-nation Pacific free trade deal, a Japanese government source said Thursday. As of last December, Japan had proposed bringing its tariff liberalization rate to 92 percent, prompting the United States to press Japan in subsequent bilateral talks, the source said.
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