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【整理】SENEWS-2004-0819-1530

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

1. Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi has given Shiite Muslim clergyman Muqtada al-Sadr and his supporters one final chance to disarm. Mr. Allawi spoke to reporters in Baghdad. He said his government wants Muqtada al-Sadr personally to say if he will accept a government peace plan. Mr. Allwai said a group of Iraqi leaders is willing to return to the Shiite holy city of Najaf to meet with the clergyman. In Najaf, heavy fighting is reported. Fighters loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr remain inside the Imam Ali center. Police report that at least seven policemen were killed when three shells hit a police station.

2. In South Korea, the head of the ruling party has resigned from office for family reasons. Shin Ki-nam of the Uri Party admitted that his father was a military police officer for Japan when Japanese forces occupied Korea. He also apologized to those who fought for Korean independence. On Sunday, President Roh Moo-hyun ordered a new investigation into Koreans who may have helped Japan between 1910 and 1945.

3. South Korean officials have asked the United States to delay its plans for cutting the number of American troops in South Korea. The officials told reporters the request was made in Seoul Thursday during talks about American plans to re-deploy troops. Local media say South Korea wants the United States to postpone the troop-cuts for one year. On Monday, President Bush said the United States would withdraw up to 70,000 troops from bases in Europe and Asia. The United States had already said it expects to withdraw about 12,000 soldiers from South Korea by 2006.

4. Malaysian Agricultural officials have confirmed that a deadly form of bird flu has infected chickens in northern Malaysia. The announcement came after birds in one village there were found to have the disease. Officials say tests show that the birds are infected with a virus called H5N1. That form of the virus killed 27 people in Thailand and Vietnam earlier this year. Malaysian officials have ordered workers to kill birds in the village to stop the disease from spreading.

5. Air pollution over Hong Kong is being blamed for at least six ship crashes in waters near the Chinese territory. Officials say objects 4 or more kilometers away can not be seen because of the thick brown smoke. People with heart and breathing problems also are suffering. The pollution is partly the result of Typhoon Megi. The storm created weather systems that trapped dirty air over Hong Kong.

You are listening to the news in VOA Special English.

6. Georgia military officials say three soldiers were killed in clashes during the night in South Ossetia. The officials say seven soldiers were wounded in the fighting. South Ossetian officials say Georgian reports of deaths among separatist fighters are false. A ceasefire between the two sides was reached last week. However, fighting restarted after both sides accused the other of violating the truce. South Ossetia declared its independence from Georgia in the early 1990s. It wants to become part of Russia.

7. Pakistani election officials say the man chosen to be the country’s next Prime Minister has easily won a seat in parliament. Officials say Shaukat Aziz received many votes in the two areas where he was a candidate. However, the opposition Pakistan People’s Party has accused the government of cheating in the elections. Mr. Aziz has served as Finance Minister since 1999. Pakistan’s National Assembly is expected to elect him Prime Minister next week.

8. In Zimbabwe, an independent study has found that 46 percent of the people questioned say they trust President Robert Mugabe. South African and American researchers spoke with more than 1,000 Zimbabweans. The study found that public trust in Mr. Mugabe has risen more than one hundred percent since 1999 that was when only 20 percent of people in Zimbabwe said they trusted the president. The new study also found just 18 percent of the population trusted opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

9. In South Africa, President Thabo Mbeki has urged developing countries to unite to better represent their interests. Mr.Mbeki spoke at the start of a conference of the Non-aligned Movement in the city of Durban. He said that poor countries must work together to urge industrialized nations to provide more money and investment. He also said poor countries must get help or more help from international organizations such as the United Nations and the International Monetary Fund. About 115 developing countries are members of the Non-aligned Movement.

10. In the United States, oil prices reached new record levels before the start of trading Thursday. Prices rose to almost 48 dollars a barrel. Experts say international demand for oil remains strong. They also say traders are worried that problems in Iraq, Russia and Venezuela could cause prices to rise even higher. The countries are among the world’s major oil exporters.

11. And in sports news, Zhang Ning of China has won the women’s single’s badminton competition at the Olympic Games in Athens. The victory gives China 12 gold medals in the Olympics. The United States has ten. Japan has eight. Earlier, Eigaly Diana of Hungary won the women’s skeet shooting competition and German Manfred Kurzer won the men’s 10-meter running target event.

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

Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi has given Shiite Muslim clergyman Muqtada al-Sadr and his supporters one final chance to disarm. Malaysian officials have confirmed that a deadly form of bird flu has infected chickens in northern Malaysia. And in late news, 15 North Koreans have forced their way into South Korean diplomatic offices in Beijing. The North Koreans reportedly are seeking asylum.

That’s the news in VOA Special English, Steve Ember reporting.
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