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Wednesday 24 May 2017

European airspace now free of ash -- but volcanic threat to flights remains

Flight authorities in Europe say most of the continent is now free of volcanic ash, and most airline services are operating as normal. Several carriers said they are laying on extra flights to help the stranded return home.

Iceland said Eyjafjallajokull was still spewing ash, but that the plume was now just 3km high -- not large enough to reach jet streams. However, the magma chambers of its neighbour, Katla, are 10 times bigger than Eyjafjallajokull's and overdue an eruption after 92 years of inactivity.

Medvedev eyes second Kremlin term

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said in an interview published yesterday that he may run for a second term in the 2012 presidential election.

Mr Medvedev's predecessor and mentor, Vladimir Putin, has previously said they wouldn't compete against each other, but "sit down and decide" who will run.

Mr Putin is still widely seen as the nation's most powerful politician despite moving into the prime minister's seat. Most observers expect him to elbow Mr Medvedev out and easily regain the presidency in 2012.

Ahmadinejad says UN sanctions illegal

Iran's president has said proposed UN sanctions against the country's nuclear programme "lack legal validity".

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said during a visit to Uganda yesterday that he would not accept sanctions which, he claimed, would hurt the reputation of the US and President Barack Obama.

Mr Ahmadinejad arrived on Friday in the east African nation to discuss Iran's nuclear programme. Uganda is a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council and has not yet ruled out the possibility of voting for sanctions against Iran.

Priest 'told church about abuse bishop'

A retired priest said yesterday that he told church authorities years ago about allegations that Belgium's longest-serving bishop had abused a boy, but he was stonewalled until the bishop was forced to resign.

Retired priest Rik Deville says he made the allegations to Archbishop Godfried Danneels between 15 and 17 years ago after learning of them from a confidant of the victim's family. Archbishop Danneels said that he had no recollections of Fr Deville's allegations at the time. Bruges Bishop Roger Vangheluwe, 73, has resigned over abuse.

Thai PM rejects talks with protesters

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva rejected talks with protesters, who warned that security forces were mobilising to disperse them from Bangkok's streets within 48 hours.

The protest group said in a text message that 8,400 police with shotguns were heading to Bangkok and troops were moving around the capital.

Security was stepped up after five grenades exploded this week on Silom Road, a business artery that is home to several of the nation's largest banks. Abhisit said yesterday that security forces will enforce the rule of law, rejecting a proposal to dissolve parliament in 30 days.

Ukraine opposition rallies over Crimea

Ukraine's political opposition sought yesterday to rally people against a decision by President Viktor Yanukovich to allow the Russian navy to stay in the Crimea until 2042.

Mr Yanukovich, in a trade-off with Moscow for securing cheaper gas, agreed last week to extend the lease of Russia's Black Sea fleet in Sevastopol by 25 years beyond 2017 -- a move which drew charges from the opposition that Ukraine's sovereignty was being compromised.

Bombs kill six in mixed Baghdad area

SIX people were killed yesterday when three bombs hidden in plastic bags exploded in western Baghdad.

Another 19 people were wounded in the blasts, which struck late in the evening in an area where young people were playing billiards in a mixed Sunni-Shiite area.

Sunday Independent

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