Moscow, Russia

Russia elects new president

Vladimir Putin congratulated his hand-picked successor on a presidential election victory yesterday after preliminary results and exit polls confirmed the expected landslide win, and said the results would guarantee the continuity of the course Putin set for Russia.

With half the ballots counted, the tally showed Dmitry Medvedev with 68 percent of the vote and his party said the inauguration would be held May 7. Medvedev appeared alongside his mentor in Red Square and vowed to pursue Putin’s policies.

Putin has agreed to be his prime minister, the second highest post in Russia.

WESTERVILLE, Ohio

Obama defends his foreign policy experience

Democrat Barack Obama worked to fend off an intensified attack on his foreign policy credentials from rival Hillary Rodham Clinton yesterday as their paths crossed two days ahead of a potentially race-ending showdown in Ohio and Texas.

“What precise foreign-policy experience is she claiming that makes her qualified to answer that telephone call at 3 a.m. in the morning?” Obama asked of the former first lady at a town-hall meeting. It was a reference to dueling television ads over who would exercise superior judgment in responding to a national emergency in the middle of the night.

The Illinois senator also sought to ease lingering Internet-fed concerns about his religion, in particular whether he was a closet Muslim.

Gaza City, Gaza Strip

Palestinians suspend talks as Gaza clashes grow

The Palestinian president suspended peace talks yesterday as Israel brushed off international criticism and vowed to press ahead with its Gaza offensive until militants halt rocket attacks.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said an even broader Gaza operation was possible, aimed at crushing militant rocket squads but also to “weaken the Hamas rule, in the right circumstances, even to bring it down.”

The Palestinian death toll rose by 21, bringing the number killed to 109 since the latest bout of fighting erupted on Wednesday, according to Palestinian medical officials and militant groups. At least 54 Palestinians and two Israelis were killed on Saturday, the single deadliest day in more than seven years of fighting.

The Gaza onslaught has failed to protect southern Israel, where residents have faced repeated rocket attacks since 2001. Gaza militants fired more than 25 rockets at southern Israel yesterday, the military said, scoring direct hits on houses in the city of Ashkelon and the town of Sderot.

Washington

Compromise sought on eavesdropping immunity bill

The House Intelligence Committee chairman expects a compromise soon on renewal of an eavesdropping law that could provide legal protections for telecommunications companies as President Bush has insisted.

Rep. Silvestre Reyes, in a television interview broadcast yesterday, did not specifically say whether the House proposal would mirror the Senate’s version. The Senate measure provides retroactive legal immunity to the companies that helped the government wiretap U.S. computer and phone lines after the Sept. 11 attacks without clearance from a secret court.

– Compiled from Daily wire reports

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