President Dmitry Medvedev says Russia will fulfill its promise to withdraw troops from areas of Georgia outside two separatist regions.
Medvedev spoke to reporters after European Union monitors began patrolling Georgian territory Wednesday. Russian troops allowed some of them into a buffer zone around the breakaway region of South Ossetia despite earlier warnings from Moscow they would be blocked.
Russia agreed last month to remove its troops from the areas within 10 days of the EU deployment that began Wednesday. There were no immediate signs of a Russian pullback Wednesday, but Medvedev told the visiting Spanish prime minister outside St. Petersburg that Russia will withdraw its troops in accordance with the agreement.
Hurricane reaches Category 4 status
Hurricane Norbert strengthened Wednesday into a powerful Category 4 storm off Mexico’s Pacific coast as it churned on a path expected to take it over the southern half of the Baja California peninsula this weekend.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Norbert will likely turn toward the northeast over the next two days en route to the Baja peninsula and Mexican mainland. Officials across the region were setting up shelters and preparing for evacuations from low-lying regions.
The storm had maximum sustained winds near 135 mph and was moving west-northwest at near 9 mph, the hurricane center said. It was expected to make landfall well north of Cabo San Lucas before dawn Saturday.
Court blocks detainees’ release
A federal appeals court on Wednesday temporarily blocked a judge’s decision to immediately free 17 Chinese Muslims at Guantanamo Bay into the U.S.
In a one-page order, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued the emergency stay at the request of the Bush administration. The three-judge panel said it would postpone release of the detainees for at least another week to give the government more time to make arguments in the case.
The appeals court set a deadline of next Thursday for additional filings but it is up to the judges to decide how quickly to act afterward.
The appeals court’s move comes after U.S. District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina on Tuesday ordered the government to free the detainees by Friday. Urbina said it would be wrong to continue holding the detainees because they are no longer considered enemy combatants.
The government says the detainees had admitted receiving weapons training in Afghanistan and were a national security risk.
The Bush administration said it was continuing efforts to find another country to accept the Uighurs because they might be tortured if they are turned over to China.