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World news briefs — Compiled March 25

Netherlands

Obama fears for NYC

President Barack Obama says he’s more concerned about the prospect of a nuclear weapon exploding in New York City than Russia’s recent actions. During a news conference Tuesday, a reporter asked Obama whether his Republican opponent in the last presidential election, Mitt Romney, had a point when he said Russia was America’s biggest geopolitical foe. The question comes in the wake of Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Obama responded, in part, by saying Russia’s actions were a problem but that they don’t pose the No. 1 national security threat to the U.S. He added, “I continue to be much more concerned when it comes to our security with the prospect of a nuclear weapon going off in Manhattan.”

Crimea

Ukrainians leave base

Ukrainian marines at a Crimean base overrun by Russian forces piled into buses Tuesday to head back to the mainland. A troop transporter bearing Russian military plates trailed a bus as it pulled away. Also Tuesday, Ukraine’s defense minister, Igor Tenyukh, stepped down after harsh criticism for authorities’ often-hesitant reaction to Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Lawmakers replaced him with Col. Gen. Mykhailo Koval.

South Korea

North fires missiles

North Korea today test-fired two medium-range ballistic missiles, South Korea said, a defiant challenge to a meeting by the leaders of rivals South Korea, Japan and the United States that focused on the North’s security threat. The launch of what are believed to be Rodong missiles would be a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions and marks a big escalation from a series of shorter-range rocket launches the North has staged in recent weeks to protest ongoing annual military drills by Washington and Seoul.

Kazakhstan

Russia, U.S. cooperate

Early today, a rocket carrying a Russian-American crew to the International Space Station blasted off successfully from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The crew on the Soyuz booster rocket — NASA astronaut Steve Swanson and Russians Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev — are set to dock the Soyuz TMA-12M spacecraft at the station less than six hours after the launch and are scheduled to stay in orbit for six months.

Compiled from wire reports.



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