TURKEY

Talks with Israel aim to renew ties

Five years after they angrily broke off diplomatic ties, Israel and Turkey are negotiating a return to normalized relations as the region around them explodes in violence.

The Obama administration is eager for the rapprochement, which it sees as a buffer against each nation's growing isolation. Both are critical regional allies for Washington, which relies on Turkey as a key part of the coalition fighting Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.

Diplomats are holding talks at a secret location, reportedly in Switzerland, where a preliminary deal is said to be in the works.

"Efforts have been ongoing for a draft," Omer Celik, a spokesman for Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party, said at a news conference this week in the Turkish capital, Ankara.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was quoted in the Israeli press along similar lines.

"We have been in ongoing contact with Turkey for several months," he said. "We still don't have understandings." - AP
GEORGIA

Premier resigns, gives no reason

Georgia's prime minister announced his resignation Wednesday without explaining his reasons.

Irakli Garibashvili is an ally of billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, whose Georgian Dream party routed supporters of former President Mikhail Saakashvili in a 2012 election. He has served as prime minister of the former Soviet nation since November 2013.

Garibashvili didn't immediately specify the reason behind his resignation as he made the announcement, but offered some self-praise, saying that "we have returned freedom and dignity to our citizens." - AP
RUSSIA

Exiled tycoon facing arrest

Russia ordered the detention of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, once the country's richest man, on murder charges and issued an international arrest warrant for the exiled opponent of President Vladimir Putin.

The Investigative Committee announced the decision, saying it has proof that Khodorkovsky ordered the 1998 murder of a mayor in a Siberian oil town for standing in the way of the interests of the former imprisoned tycoon's Yukos Oil Co., according to a website statement Wednesday.

Khodorkovsky, 52, was freed by presidential pardon in December 2013 after serving a decade in prison on fraud, tax evasion, and money-laundering charges that he says were retribution for funding opposition parties. Now based in London, after initially pledging to steer clear of politics, he's been supporting efforts to end Putin's 15-year rule. - Bloomberg
RUSSIA

Burning rocket creates stir in U.S.

The body of a Russian rocket that burned up Tuesday night as it entered Earth's atmosphere set off a wave of excitement on social media and fueled speculation over what caused the flash of light to shoot across western U.S. skies.

U.S. and Russian officials declined to discuss what the rocket was used for, but experts outside of the government say it was launched as part of a project to bring materials to a space station. - AP