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French presidential campaign enters final phase, with two weeks to go until voting

The French presidential campaign entered its final phase Monday with a series of carefully choreographed spots by candidates, two weeks before the first round of voting.

France's audiovisual regulator has allotted each candidate 45 minutes of airtime on public TV channels until April 20 - two days before the first round, when all candidates must stop their campaigning and no polls can be published.

Most recent voter surveys show Nicolas Sarkozy, the candidate of the governing conservative party, as front-runner for the April 22 vote, followed by Socialist Segolene Royal. Francois Bayrou, a candidate pledging to bridge France's traditional left-right divide, is third.

Polls suggest that aside from those three, far-right nationalist Jean-Marie Le Pen in fourth appears to be the only other hopeful with a chance of qualifying for the runoff on May 6.

In the coming weeks, candidates will be chasing the many undecided voters who are uncertain about what they want for France's future after 12 years under conservative President Jacques Chirac. A poll published Sunday by the CSA-Cisco agency suggested that 42 percent of French respondents have not yet made their choice.

In a tight race, the candidates' publicity spots will be closely watched. France's national audiovisual council carefully controls the campaign to make sure that all the candidates get equal time. The spots range in length from one minute to 5 1/2 minutes.

The three candidates selected at random to air their spots Monday were a hunter who champions rural traditions, a farmer-turned-anti-globalization activist and a far-right candidate who denounces what he calls "Islamization of France."

The three - Frederic Nihous, Jose Bove and Philippe de Villiers - each have 1-2 percent of support in opinion polls.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a briefing in Beijing that the question about the shipment of S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems to Syria had not been resolved yet. However, Syrian Ambassador to Russia Riyad Haddad said that S-300 missile systems had been delivered to Syria last month

Israel can learn many lessons with the help of Russia's S-300 air defence systems in Syria

Representatives of the Israeli Defence Ministry responded to recent reports about the possible delivery of S-300 SAM systems from Russia to Syria. Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that Israel would destroy those systems

Israel vows to destroy Russia's S-300 in Syria in case of danger
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