Main news of July 8


* The Palestinian National Authority expressed its regret that U.S. lawmakers accepted a resolution cutting off all aid to the Palestinians if they turn to the United Nations in September to request the Palestinian Territories be recognized as an independent country

* Khartoum officially recognized the independence of South Sudan the day before it is to officially become Africa’s 53rd state after a five-month transition period

* The last ever shuttle launch was performed as Atlantis lifted off from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center

* Syria has condemned a visit by the U.S. ambassador to the restive city of Hama as incitement and proof that Washington is orchestrating the nationwide protests that have challenged President Bashar Assad’s grip on power

* The Mideast Quartet will not call for the resumption of talks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, chief negotiator for the Palestinian Administration Saeb Erekat said in an interview with Al-Ayyam newspaper

* Thursday’s detention of four prominent Georgian photojournalists is not related to their professional activities, a spokeswoman for the Georgian president said


* Russia marked the Day of Married Love and Family Happiness amid a deepening demographic crisis and a record divorce rate

* A powerful thunderstorm forced the shutdown of one of the reactors at the Balakovskaya nuclear power plant in central Russia


* Russia’s largest oil company Rosneft is holding talks with U.S. Exxon Mobil on joint exploration and development of the Val Shatsky oilfield and other projects on the Black Sea, Rosneft head Eduard Khudainatov told reporters

* Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych reiterated that Kiev welcomed cooperation between the state-owned energy firm Naftogaz and Russia’s gas giant Gazprom, not the merger deal proposed by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin

* Russia’s gas export monopoly Gazprom and Germany’s E.ON, one of Europe’s biggest purchasers of Russian gas, may develop joint projects in the electrical power industry, Gazprom said, without elaborating

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