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Main news of December 23

A roundup of what has happened in the past 24 hours


* New Zealand and Belgium ratified on Wednesday a UN convention banning the production and use of cluster bombs, bringing it closer to becoming international law

* The United Nations Security Council voted to impose sanctions on Eritrea, banning arms import and freezing bank accounts of some companies and individuals

* More than 20 Osama bin Laden's relatives, including wives, children and grandchildren, live in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria and Qatar, the terrorist's son told the Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper

* Some 40 people were injured as an American Airlines plane split into two after overshooting a runway in the airport of Kingston, Jamaica, local media said

* A second Boeing 787 Dreamliner has completed its first flight, Boeing reported


* Senior Russian and U.S. diplomatic officials have discussed the ongoing negotiations on a new strategic arms treaty, the Foreign Ministry said

* Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland said there were positive indications that Russia would give the green light to the reform of the Strasbourg Court by ratifying the 14th Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights

* Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin blamed Georgia for sending relations with Russia to their all-time low

* A Russian Orthodox priest has been killed in the Moscow Region south of the Russian capital, and two suspects have been detained, police said

* The Russian Orthodox Church condemns discrimination against sexual minorities, but treats homosexuality as a sin, Patriarch Kirill said

* The number of people killed in a mine blast near the Urals city of Nizhny Tagil has climbed to eight, a spokeswoman for the local emergency services said

* Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill said a priest who was shot dead during the night was killed for refusing to go against his principles

* Russia's Soyuz TMA-17 spacecraft carrying a crew of three has docked with the International Space Station (ISS), Mission Control said


* Ukraine has asked Russian energy giant Gazprom to cut natural gas supplies to 7 billion cubic meters in the first quarter of 2010, from 8.75 bcm under the existing contract, a business daily said

* Belarus has obtained a $688 million loan tranche from the International Monetary Fund, the country's National Bank said


* Legendary Formula One driver, seven-time World Champion, Michael Schumacher, will return next year to 'Royal Racing' at the age of 41 after signing a contract with the Mercedes Benz team

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