World Briefs: Russian pulls back battalion

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SIMFEROPOL, Crimea -- Russia pulled back a battalion from along the Ukrainian border Monday in a maneuver that Ukraine called baffling.

Russia's takeover of Crimea, a strategic region on the Black Sea, its troop buildup on Ukraine's borders and its attempts to compel constitutional changes in Ukraine have markedly raised tensions with the West and prompted fears that Moscow intends to invade other areas of Ukraine.

However, Russian President Vladimir Putin told German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a Monday call that some troops were being withdrawn from the Ukraine border, Ms. Merkel's office said.

The U.S. reacted cautiously to the Russian troop movement, with Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel saying that "tens of thousands" of Russian forces still remained along the Ukrainian border, a situation he called "a tremendous buildup."

Search for plane goes on

PERTH, Australia -- Although it has been slow, difficult and frustrating so far, the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet is nowhere near the point of being scaled back, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott pledged Monday.

The three-week hunt for Flight 370 has turned up no sign of the Boeing 777, which vanished March 8 with 239 people bound for Beijing from Kuala Lumpur.

"I'm certainly not putting a time limit on it," Mr. Abbott said at RAAF Pearce, the Perth military base coordinating the search operation.

Musharraf indicted

ISLAMABAD -- Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's former military ruler, pleaded not guilty to treason charges Monday after being formally indicted by a special court.

The indictment was a turning point for Pakistan, where the military has long dominated the civilian leadership and no military ruler has ever been tried for abuse of power.

Mr. Musharraf, 70, asked the court to allow him to travel abroad to seek medical treatment. The three-member panel did not reject his request outright, suggesting that he could approach the government about having his name removed from the list of people barred from leaving the country.

Ex-P.M. Olmert convicted

JERUSALEM -- Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was convicted Monday of accepting bribes in a case called one of the nation's largest corruption scandals, ending an intense two-year trial and most likely his political career.

Mr. Olmert is the first prime minister to be convicted and quite probably faces jail time, although he joins the growing list of former Israeli politicians convicted of crimes that include financial corruption and rape.

Ebola death toll now 80

CONAKRY, Guinea -- The Ebola outbreak in Guinea, where the death toll climbed to 80, is "unprecedented," international aid organization Doctors Without Borders said.

In neighboring Liberia, one of two confirmed cases has died, while a second person who died with a suspected Ebola infection tested negative for the virus, the World Health Organization said. Both confirmed cases in Liberia were exposed to Ebola in Guinea, WHO said.

Valls new P.M. in France

PARIS -- French President Francois Hollande, whose Socialist Party was handed an unprecedented defeat in the municipal elections, named Manuel Valls his new prime minister to address voter dissatisfaction with his government.

Mr. Valls, 51, who was France's interior minister, replaces Jean-Marc Ayrault, who had led the government since Mr. Hollande's May 2012 election.


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