Assads government is cooperating blamelessly with international inspectors, meeting its commitments to the chemical weapons deal, and it is ready for mid-November peace talks with the opposition, Lavrov told reporters at the joint news conference. 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 long-awaited peace talks 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 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. In a further e-mailed comment today, the official said the disarmament team expected continued cooperation as it worked toward achieving further progress. The developments came a week after the UN Security Council approved an agreement demanding the elimination of Syrias non-conventional arms following the August attack. The 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. In an interview with Der Spiegel last week, Assad said the international community should not worry about the security of chemical weapons stores because theyre under government control and the stored materials havent been activated. It is not as bad as it is portrayed by the media and believed in the West.

Russia to spy on Olympic athletes, visitors: researchers

The Micex Index (INDEXCF) declined 0.8 percent to 1,463.13 by 11:30 a.m. in Moscow. OAO Gazprom, the natural-gas export monopoly, fell 1.3 percent to 143.05 rubles. OAO Russian Grids dropped 1.9 percent to 93 kopeks. With the U.S. set to exhaust measures to avoid breaching its debt ceiling on Oct. 17, House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner said lawmakers wont raise the limit without packaging it with other provisions, a nonstarter for President Barack Obama . Utilities sank 1 percent on average, while basic materials and oil and gas shares lost 0.8 percent, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Boehners comments that Republicans are willing to go to the very end has created fear that the U.S. might actually default on its debt, Slava Smolyaninov, a strategist at UralSib Capital in Moscow, said by phone. Investors are fleeing risky assets. If economic growth in the U.S.

Russia Stocks Fall First Day in Three on U.S. Default Concern

1 hour ago Moscow (AFP) – Russia has installed an all-encompassing surveillance system at the site of next year’s Winter Olympic Games in Sochi that will allow security services to listen in on athletes and visitors, security analysts said on Monday. The surveillance system was first developed by the Soviet-era KGB, predecessor of the FSB special services, in the mid-1980s and updated in recent years, said prominent security analyst Andrei Soldatov. Dubbed SORM, the system will give Russian security services free access to all phone and Internet communications at the Olympic Games in February without the providers’ knowledge, according to research by Soldatov and his colleague Irina Borogan. Telecom providers are required to pay for the SORM equipment and its installation, but law enforcement agencies will be able to wiretap without having to show providers court orders allowing the eavesdropping, the analysts said. “Operators do not know what and when the FSB is monitoring,” Soldatov told AFP. Citing research based on documents published by the Russian government procurement agency and other government records, the analysts said the authorities have been installing the surveillance devices in the Black Sea resort of Sochi since 2010. Police officers secure a court in Kirov, Russia, on July 18, 2013 (AFP Photo/Vasily Maximov) Russia has pulled out all the stops to get the subtropic region ready for the Games, spending more than $50 billion in state and corporate money on infrastructure improvements including mobile networks. “There is a promise that visitors will have access to the fastest WiFi networks in Olympic history, for free,” the researchers said on their website agentura.ru. But at the same time, the analysts said, national telecom provider Rostelecom is installing DPI (deep packet inspection) systems on all its mobile networks, technology which will allow the FSB not only to monitor all traffic but also to filter it. While many Olympic host countries take steps to monitor communications for security reasons, Russia will take surveillance to a new level, said Soldatov, adding the government will also deploy drones and sonars to detect submarines. “The most unique feature of this system is its totality,” said Soldatov, adding he was astonished to learn that the defence ministry bought the sonars especially for the Olympic Games. Technology & Electronics DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) — Nobody figured that Tiger Woods, bad back and all, would have to hit a meaningful shot on Sunday at the Presidents Cup. The Associated Press