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【整理】SENEWS-2004-0820-1530

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It is 15:30 Universal Time. I’m Steve Ember in Washington.

1. There are conflicting reports from Iraq about control of the Shiite Muslim holy center in Najaf. Iraq’s Interior Ministry says Iraqi police now control the Imam Ali Center. Government officials say about 500 armed men inside the holy center surrendered on Friday. But supporters of Shiite religious leader Muqtada al-Sadr and some news reporters in Najaf say the men still control the Imam Ali Center. They say supporters of Mr. al-Sadr remain inside the center. It is not known where Mr. al-Sadr is now. Iraq’s Health Ministry says 77 Iraqis have been killed and 70 wounded in the past 24 hours in Najaf. Iraq’s Interior Ministry says Iraqi police and Shiite Muslim religious leaders have entered a holy place in Najaf. Iraqi officials say police now control the Imam Ali Center. Government officials say about 500 men inside the holy center surrendered on Friday. No shots were fired and no one was hurt. The men were supporters of Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr. It is not known where Mr. al-Sadr is now.

2. Also in Iraq, American warplanes have attacked the city of Fallujah. Local hospital officials say two Iraqis were killed and nine were wounded. The planes attacked an industrial area of the city. The city of Fallujah has been a center for Sunni Muslim rebels.

3. The Washington Post Newspaper says a report by the American army blames American military leaders in Iraq for the bad treatment of Iraqi prisoners. Defense Department officials told the newspaper there were problems with leadership, policies and not enough concern for rules at the Abu Ghraib prison. The American Congress is expected to receive the final army report next week. It has 9,000 pages. The report may name 20 more soldiers involved in the bad treatment of prisoners. The newspaper also says the report will urge that 5 civilian contractors be investigated for possible crimes against prisoners.

4. Defense officials from the United States and South Korea have not agreed on dates for a planned reduction of American troops in South Korea. South Korea wants the United States to delay the planned troop reductions for one year. American officials say they plan to withdraw about one third of the 37,000 troops from South Korea by the end of 2005. The United States and South Korea ended talks on Friday in Seoul. The talks followed an announcement this week by President Bush that up to 70,000 American troops will be withdrawn from bases in Europe and Asia.

5. China has named a new delegate to talks about North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. The official Chinese news agency Xinhua says Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi will no longer be the chief delegate. Wu Dawei will become China’s delegate to the nuclear weapons talks. Mr. Wu has been China’s ambassador to Japan and South Korea in the past. Delegates from six nations are scheduled to meet again in Beijing next month to talk about the nuclear issue.

6. Rebels in Nepal have attacked a government office in Katmandu. One police officer was injured. Since Wednesday rebels have blocked almost all traffic entering or leaving Katmandu. The rebels say the blockade will continue until the government releases jailed fighters and provides information on missing activists. Business leaders in Nepal have called on the government to open talks with the rebels. The United States says it will try to help the government in Nepal end the dispute peacefully.

You are listening to the news in VOA Special English.

7. Mongolia’s parliament has appointed Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj as the new Prime Minister. He is 41 years old and was educated at Harvard University in the United State. Mr. Elbegdorj is the leader of the opposition Motherland Democratic Coalition in Mongolia. This will be his second time as Prime Minister. Nambaryn Enkhbayar will become speaker of the parliament. He is the former Prime Minister of Mongolia.

8. Oil prices continued to increase on Friday to almost 50 dollars a barrel. Some observers say that the fighting in Iraq could reduce exports of oil. That could make the price of oil increase more. On Thursday, Shiite fighters in southern Iraq burned the offices and storage area of one oil company. However, a British military official said the fire did not affect / oil production.

9. The World Health Organization says there is not enough information to know if bird flu in pigs will be a threat to humans. A Chinese research official said that the bird flu virus was found in pigs last year and again this year. The official made the statement at a conference in Beijing. The same bird flu virus killed 27 people in Vietnam and Thailand this year. Scientists believe most flu viruses move from birds to pigs or other animals before spreading to humans.

10. Scientists say people traveling to Africa from Southeast Asia and South America should be tested and treated for malaria. Scientists are very concerned about a kind of malaria that cannot be treated easily with common medicines. This kind of drug resistant malaria requires medicines that caused more money. Scientists do not want travelers to spread the kind of malaria that cannot be treated easily.

11. At the Olympics in Athens, two competitors from China have won the gold medal in women’s table tennis doubles. They defeated the team from South Korea. Another Chinese team won the bronze medal. Later on Friday, Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia will try to become the first man to win three gold medals in the men’s 10,000-meter running race.

And now briefly here again is the major news of the hour.

There are conflicting reports about who is in control of a holy place in Najaf where Shiite Muslim rebels had been stayed. American and South Korean officials cannot agree on a date for the reduction of American forces in South Korea. And scientists are concerned about the spread of drug resistant malaria by travelers.

That’s the news in VOA Special English. From Washington, this has been Steve Ember reporting.
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