Russia Halts Lithuania Dairy Imports, Boosting Trade Tensions

US, Russia Discuss Need for Specific Iranian Nuclear Proposal

The European Union last month urged Russia to stop targeting Lithuania, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency, with punitive trade restrictions. Lithuanias leaders, including Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius, say the curbs probably are Russias way of protesting plans to strengthen EU trade ties with Ukraine and other ex-Soviet countries at a November summit in the Lithuanian capital. The restrictive measures are necessary because of weakening food quality and safety control by Lithuanian dairy producers and regulators, the Federal Consumer Rights Protection Service, the state consumer-welfare body in Moscow, said today on its website. Russias customs service will impose the suspension, it said. The Lithuanian cabinet will meet today to determine the best response to Russias latest actions, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Rasa Jakilaitiene said by e-mail. Lithuania, after becoming the first Soviet Republic to declare independence in 1990, suffered more than a year of trade blockades as Moscow tried to convince it not to leave the Soviet Union. That was more than a fifth of the value of all Lithuania-origin goods exported to Russia last year, according to data on the offices website. AB Zemaitijos Pienas fell 1.9 percent and AB Vilkyskiu Pienine traded down 1.3 percent on the Nasdaq OMX Vilnius exchange. Rokiskio Suris wont comment on Russias import suspension until it gets more concrete information, Dalius Trumpa, the companys director, said today by e-mail. To contact the reporter on this story: Bryan Bradley in Vilnius at To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at

Russia Receives Sochi Olympics Flame

We dont need to do anything to convince Damascus to send its delegation to a peace conference, Lavrov said, saying the regime was ready months ago. It is the Syrian opposition that needs to be persuaded to attend without preconditions, he said. Peace Talks While the United Nations alone can set a date for the long-awaited peace conference in Geneva, there have been discussions about the second week of November or so, and we will urge a date to be set as soon as possible, Kerry said. Lavrov said today that the U.S. and Russia have an understanding that the future peace conference must include all parties inside Syria and important international players, a possible reference to neighboring Iran , which supports Syria with money and weapons. U.S. officials have said they oppose Irans participation unless it part of the solution, rather than stoking the conflict. Inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, a watchdog group based in The Hague , verified yesterday that Syria destroyed missile warheads and production equipment, according to an official from the joint OPCW -UN mission who asked not to be identified. The action came a week after the UN Security Council approved an agreement demanding the elimination of the countrys non-conventional arms following the August attack. Syrias arsenal is estimated to be the third-largest in the world. Pleased With Pace Were very pleased with the pace of what has happened with respect to chemical weapons, Kerry said. The Security Council approved an agreement on Sept. 27 to eliminate all of Syrias chemical weapons, though the resolution didnt attach consequences for failure to comply or assign blame for the attack. The U.S., U.K.

U.S., Russia Commend Assad for Complying With Agreement

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday after meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that Iran probably wants clear steps spelled out toward proving its nuclear program is peaceful. Lavrov said that will likely be part of discussions next in week in Geneva, when officials from the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany hold their next talks with Iran. Kerry said the United States is encouraged by Iran’s recent outreach efforts, but that actions, not words, are what will make a difference. “So what we need are a set of proposals from Iran that fully disclose how they will show the world that their program is peaceful. And we have made it clear that if there are those indicators, the United States and our allies are absolutely prepared to move in appropriate ways to meet their actions,” said Kerry. Kerry also said Iran has not responded to an offer the so-called P5+1 group made earlier this year, which called for Iran to stop enriching uranium to 20 percent and halt enrichment at one of its nuclear facilities. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said on Sunday that the offer was no longer valid, and that the P5+1 should come to next week’s negotiations with a “new point of view.” Iran has long maintained that its nuclear program is strictly for peaceful purposes, and wants the international community to lift a range of sanctions imposed for its refusal to halt enrichment activity. The possible threat of a ballistic missile strike from countries like Iran has led the United States to plan a missile shield in Europe. Russia opposes the move, saying the system could neutralize its own strategic missile force and leave it vulnerable to the West. Kerry said Monday it is too early to make determinations about the system as long as the Iranian threat continues. However, he also said that the U.S. and Russia are continuing to talk about the plan and are trying to work out a way that meets the needs of both countries.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has vowed to deliver a brilliant Games to show how far Russia has come since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. But Russia has come under mounting international criticism over a new anti-gay propaganda law, which critics believe is repressive, and preparations for the Games will not be plain sailing for the Russian hosts. Earlier in the day, a group of Greek gay activists raised the rainbow flag outside Greece’s Acropolis museum in Athens. Russia receives the Olympic flame, a globally recognized symbol of humanitarian ideals, the Athens-based gay rights group Color Youth said in a statement. Yet the laws in Russia are far from the ideals of human rights when it comes to LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans-gender, queer) people, who are tortured, abused and discriminated against. We choose not to be silent this day, it said. Pentagon confirms U.S. forces captured an al-Qaida leader indicted for 1998 bombings of American embassies in Africa More Featured Videos Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe’s Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player . Indian Villagers Look to Sky for Water Supply Indian Villagers Look to Sky for Water Supply At least 11 percent of the global population does not have access to improved drinking water sources. And although the situation has improved in India, the United Nations says the world’s second most populous country still has some 97 million people living without a safe water supply. VOA New Delhi correspondent Aru Pande travels to a village in northern India where residents are turning to ancient water gathering practices. Video Egypt is in the midst of profound polarization, with supporters and opponents of the government facing off on the national stage, as well as the personal one. VOA’s Elizabeth Arrott reports on one woman trying to overcome the differences. Video As North Pole Ice Melts, More Ships Take Arctic Shortcut While many people are concerned about the negative effects of global warming, it’s also creating benefits in some cases.