Main News of March 22




* China called for an immediate end to a Western-led military operation in Libya


* Russia welcomes the success of NATO-led coalition forces and the stabilization of the situation in Afghanistan, Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said


* Police in Japan say the death toll in the devastating earthquake and subsequent tsunami has exceeded 9,000 people, the Kyodo news agency reported


* U.S. President Barack Obama has reiterated U.S. demands for Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to step down, stressing that the goal of the international military operation in Libya was to protect citizens




* There is no rift in Russia’s ruling tandem over the conflict in Libya, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said


* Russian gas giant Gazprom and Slovenia’s Geoplin Plinovodi signed a deal on Tuesday to set up a joint venture to build the Slovenian section of the South Stream gas pipeline.


* The board of Russia’s state-controlled Gazprom has extended the contract of its Chief Executive Officer Alexei Miller, who has headed the gas giant for almost a decade, for another five years, Gazprom said


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