Putin welcomes new NATO head, says better ties with West possible
Russian President Vladimir Putin welcomed NATO's selection of former Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg as its new head, saying on Saturday the pair had "very good relations" but that it was up to the West to improve ties. Relations between Russia and the NATO military alliance are at their worst since the Cold War following Russia's seizure of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula, a move Putin said on Thursday was partly influenced by NATO's expansion into eastern Europe. In a sign of his strained ties with current NATO head Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Putin repeated an accusation that the former Danish prime minister had secretly taped and leaked a private conversation between them, a charge Rasmussen has denied. Putin said there was no reason why relations between Russia and the West can not improve, but that it was up to the West to make that happen.
Current underwater search for Malaysia plane could end within a week
By Matt Siegel and Byron Kaye SYDNEY/PERTH, Australia (Reuters) - The current underwater search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, focused on a tight 10 km (6.2 mile) circle of the sea floor, could be completed within a week, Australian search officials said on Saturday. Malaysia said the search was at a "very critical juncture" and asked for prayers for its success. A U.S. Navy deep-sea autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) is scouring a remote stretch of the Indian Ocean floor for signs of the plane, which disappeared from radars on March 8 with 239 people on board. "Provided the weather is favorable for launch and recovery of the AUV and we have a good run with the serviceability of the AUV, we should complete the search of the focused underwater area in five to seven days," the Joint Agency Coordination Centre told Reuters in an email.
Captain of sunken S. Korean ferry, 2 crew arrested
MOKPO, South Korea (AP) — The captain of the ferry that sank off South Korea, leaving more than 300 missing or dead, was arrested early Saturday on suspicion of negligence and abandoning people in need. Two crew members also were taken into custody, including a mate who a prosecutor said was steering in challenging waters unfamiliar to her when the accident occurred.
Sub search for missing plane to be done in week
PERTH, Australia (AP) — An underwater robotic submarine is expected to finish searching a narrowed down area of the Indian Ocean seabed for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane within the next week, after completing six missions and so far coming up empty, the search coordination center said Saturday.
Ukraine in 'pivotal period' as deal stalls, US warns Russia
Donetsk (Ukraine) (AFP) - Russia was under intense US pressure Saturday to convince pro-Moscow rebels in Ukraine to give up eastern towns they are occupying, after Washington said the situation in the former Soviet republic was in a "pivotal period". But with the separatists' refusal to budge throwing a deal to defuse the crisis into doubt, and US sanctions looming large, Russia was biting back -- warning that its military is massed on Ukraine's border, ready to act. In the main eastern city of Donetsk, separatist gunmen remained barricaded inside the regional government building. The failure to implement the agreement hammered out in Geneva Thursday by the US, Russia, Ukraine and the EU threatened to deepen the worst East-West crisis since the Cold War.