Russia, China in $2.8b fighter jet deal
MOSCOW • Russia and China have agreed on the sale of 24 Sukhoi Su-35 fighters to Beijing, Russian state holding Rostec said on Thursday.
The deal - which military experts say could be worth more than US$2 billion (S$2.8 billion) - marks the first time a foreign state has purchased the Su-35.
The sale will help fill Russia's state coffers as its economy has been reeling from low oil prices and Western sanctions imposed over the Ukraine crisis.
'No polls with terrorists still in Syria'
LONDON • Syria's President Bashar al-Assad emphasised that the deadline for the start of a political transition could not be set while the country is occupied by "terrorists".
Mr Assad made the remarks to Italian state television Rai TV, saying that the timetable for elections "starts after starting to defeat terrorism", the BBC reported. He did not say if he was referring only to Islamic State in Iraq and Syria militants or also to Western-backed rebels.
His comments followed last week's decision by 19 countries, including Mr Assad's allies, to set a deadline of Jan 1 for the start of peace talks.
1,111-carat diamond unearthed
JOHANNESBURG • A 1,111-carat "high-quality diamond" has been discovered at Canadian mining company Lucara Diamond's mine in Botswana.
The gem is second in size to the 3,106-carat Cullinan diamond discovered in South Africa in 1905. "The significance of the recovery of a gem-quality stone larger than 1,000 carats, the largest for more than a century....cannot be overstated," said Mr William Lamb, president and chief executive of Lucara.