President-elect Dmitri Medvedev of Russia appeared to set a positive tone for negotiations with the Bush administration over the siting of an antimissile system in eastern Europe. Meeting with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Gates, he predicted the talks would be "intense," but added: "We need to provide for continuity in the Russian-US relationship [and] we have all the requisite tools to do this." Russian news outlets quoted outgoing President Vladimir Putin, who also met with Rice and Gates, as saying "final agreement" had been reached between the two sides on some of their differences.
Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany is to address Israel's parliament Tuesday, making her the first foreign head of government to do so. Only heads of state or monarchs have been extended such an invitation previously. Visiting the Jewish state on its 60th anniversary, Merkel (above, l., sitting in on a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem), declined to comment on newly announced Israeli plans to expand Jewish home-building in Arab sections of the capital despite Palestinian objections and international criticism.
Searchers near Albania's capital found the remains of a child killed in the massive explosions at an Army ammunition depot as calls began for the government to resign over its handling of the incident. The latest casualty count: 11 dead and almost 300 wounded. Twelve other people remained missing Monday, and authorities said 2,300 homes and businesses were destroyed or damaged. The government began an investigation into the explosions, which Prime Minister Sali Berisha has called an accident. But two opposition parties demanded that he "stop making excuses" and step down.
"In general terms, I am sort of pleased," the senior medical officer of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said Monday in accepting an analysis of air quality in Beijing as being better than expected. The data studied by independent experts suggest that heat and humidity in the Chinese capital could affect athletic performance at the Aug. 8-24 Summer Games more than its polluted air, Arne Ljungqvist said. Air quality will be monitored daily, and the IOC has said outdoor events will be postponed if necessary.
An Al Qaeda branch extended its deadline for a hostage swap that would free two Austrian tourists seized Feb. 22 in Tunisia. In exchange, the militants are demanding that other members in Tunisian and Algerian prisons be freed. A Vienna newspaper reported that the militants also want an $8 million ransom. The captors said the hostages were taken because of "Western cooperation with Israel" and that Austria's government would be responsible if the demands weren't met by Sunday night.
Nineteen people were arrested at dawn Monday in a Paris suburb, as police sought participants in the March 2 ambush that left several officers wounded by shotgun pellets. The raid in Grigny was the second of its type around the French capital in two months, with the Interior Ministry saying it was determined "not to leave ... attacks on the forces of order" unpunished.
By a near-unanimous vote, the political movement that has led the campaign for Quebec separatism backed away from a pledge to force a third referendum on the issue. At its convention over the weekend, the Partí Quebeçois proposed instead to address such goals as strengthening the status of the French language. Quebeckers twice have been asked to vote on breaking away from the rest of Canada and have rejected it both times, most recently in 1995.
Destruction of protected forests on environmentally sensitive Madagascar has been cut to 0.5 percent, conservation experts reported. Madagascar is aiming to promote itself to tourists as unique in terms of biodiversity. The world's fourth-largest island is home to 217 species of mammals – 90 percent of which are found nowhere else.