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Wednesday, 28-Nov-2012 02:59 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Putin to meet press and travel abroad next month

Putin to meet press and travel abroad next month
The Kremlin announced on Monday that Putin would give his annual presidential news conference on Dec. 20. Putin will also visit Turkey and Turkmenistan next week, signaling that he is fit for travel again after a two-month hiatus that raised speculation about his health.

Putin is expected to meet Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Abdullah Gül during a half-day working visit Dec. 3 in Istanbul, a Turkish diplomatic source confirmed Monday, speaking on condition of anonymity because an official announcement had not been made.

Two days later, Putin will attend the summit of the Commonwealth of Independent States in the Turkmen capital, Ashgabat, Konstantin Zatulin, director of the influential CIS Institute and a former Duma deputy, told The Moscow Times.

Putin is not known to have traveled since returning from an Oct. 5 visit to Tajikistan. The Kremlin subsequently canceled all visits planned for October and November, citing scheduling difficulties.

Apart from Turkey and Turkmenistan, Putin is expected to attend a summit with European Union leaders in Brussels on Dec. 21 and visit India on Dec. 24, according to the monthly schedule published on state-run news agency RIA-Novosti's website.

In late October, reports surfaced that Putin had an ailment that required surgery. A week later, Vedomosti reported that the president was suffering from an old injury that came to the fore after he flew in a hang glider with endangered cranes in Siberia on Sept. 6.

Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, denied the reports, saying the president had merely pulled a muscle while exercising. He also said Putin would spend as much time as possible at his out-of-town residence, Novo-Ogaryovo, to avoid disrupting traffic.

Thursday, 22-Nov-2012 12:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
S.Korean opposition candidates to hold TV debate

South Korea's two liberal presidential candidates are poised to hold a televised debate late Wednesday as part of their attempt to merge their candidacies before the December presidential election, their aides said.

Moon Jae-in of the center-left main opposition Democratic United Party and independent Ahn Cheol-soo will square off in the 100-minute debate beginning at 11:00 p.m. local time. Three local broadcasters will air the debate.

The two men have been in talks over forming an alliance against Park Geun-hye of the conservative ruling Saenuri Party before Nov. 26, but negotiations got bumpy as they sought to maximize their chances to be on the liberal ticket to the presidential office.

Such tensions prompted Ahn, a 50-year-old political novice, to temporarily suspend negotiations at one point, accusing Moon and his party of being manipulative.

Moon, a 59-year-old former human rights lawyer who served as chief of staff to late President Roh Moo-hyun, has made a series of concessions to meet Ahn's demands including the resignation of party head Lee Hae-chan.

The resignation last week brought the two candidates back to the negotiating table, but talks hit yet another snag over how to conduct opinion polls that would decide which candidate will become the single candidate.

Prospects for an alliance between the two men are seen as a game changer that would determine the fate of the election, as they are seen as liberal alternatives to Park.

The presidential election is slated for Dec. 19, with President Lee Myung-bak constitutionally barred from seeking re-election.


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