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WORLD NEWS - 00:30 UTC, April 30, 2006

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And we come now to zero hours thirty Universal Time. In the news in this hour:

Major Iraqi parliamentary groups are to meet on Sunday for talks about forming a new government. Party leaders in Baghdad said no decision has been made about who will hold the cabinet positions of Interior and Defense Ministers. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is to offer his choices for cabinet positions to the parliament by May 21st. The Bush Administration wants Iraqi leaders to form a national unity government soon. American officials believe a government would help stop violence led by Sunni Arabs. They also say a government would help prepare for the withdrawal of United States troops from Iraq.

Thousands of anti-war protesters have marched in New York City to call for an end to American military involvement in Iraq. The demonstrators gathered in Manhattan on Saturday. Speakers included civil rights activist Jesse Jackson, actress Susan Sarandon, and anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan. The Sheehan's son Kathy was killed in Iraq in 2004.

Iran has rejected an appeal by Russia to stop enriching uranium. Russia's top diplomat telephoned the top Iranian diplomat on Saturday to urge Iran to take steps to rebuild international trust. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also urged Iran to fully answer questions about its nuclear program. In Tehran, an Iranian energy official offered to permit unexpected inspections if the UN Security Council eases its position on Iran. On Friday, the United States and several other nations said they would seek a Security Council resolution next week. The resolution would give legal force to Security Council demands that Iran stop enriching uranium.

The Pakistani military has dismissed a called from al-Qaeda's second highest official to disobey President Pervez Musharraf. Military spokesman Major General Shaukat Sultan said the Pakistan military fully supports the president. In a video recorded massage on Saturday, al-Qaeda official Ayman al-Zawahri called on the Pakistani military to help fight the government of President Pervez Musharraf. He said every soldier should disobey orders to kill Muslims in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Jordan and Egypt say they hope to get the new Israeli government to restart peace talks and negotiations with the Palestinians. The Jordanian and Egyptian foreign ministers commented to reporters in the Jordanian town of Aquaba on Saturday. They spoke after a meeting between Jordan's King Abdullah and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. The ministers said their leaders hope to hold talks with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

You are listening to the news in VOA Special English.

Maoist rebels in Nepal have freed 8 soldiers kidnapped on Thursday. The 8 were released on Saturday about 500km east of Katmandu. It is not known what has happed to 3 other soldiers taken hostage. The Maoist rebels declared a 3-month truce on Thursday. Officials said some of the rebels might not have known about the ceasefire. The officials said the rebels have limited communications. The ceasefire declaration came after Nepal's Prime Minister said a new constitution would be written. The prime minister also said he would call elections for a constitutional legislature.

Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi says he will resign next week. The announcement ends an election dispute that has lasted for 3 weeks. The prime minister said he will hold his last cabinet meeting on Tuesday then resign. A coalition led by Romano Prodi won an extremely close national election earlier this month. Mr. Berlusconi said he would resign after Mr. Prodi's coalition won leadership positions in both houses of the Italian parliament.

In Kyrgyzstan, thousands of opposition demonstrators marched in the capital Bishkek on Saturday, the crowd demanded reforms from president Kurmanbek Bakiev. They criticized him for failing to do enough to fight wrongdoing in the government. Mr. Bakia told the demonstrators that changes take time. Mr. Bakiev was elected president last July; he campaigned on guarantees to reform the government and to limit presidential power.

Somali officials say the country is moving toward establishing local governing bodies. The plan is an effort to begin restoring governmental control to the nation. The officials say the plan calls for local leaders to elect area representatives called Commissioners. Prime Minister Mohammed Ali Ghedi said in Baidoa that this would create a way for the government to communicate with citizens at the local level.

And the yearly Jazz and Heritage festival has started in New Orleans, Louisiana. It is the first major series of musical events in the city since Hurricane Katrina struck last August. Thousands of people are listening to both local and national performers. The artists include Bruce Springsteen, the Dave Matthews Band, and Bob Dylan. The festival continues until May 7th.

And so briefly now here again is the major news of this hour. Major Iraqi parliamentary groups are to meet on Sunday for talks about forming a new government. Iran has rejected an appeal by Russia to stop enriching uranium. And Maoist revels in Nepal have freed 8 soldiers they kidnapped on Thursday. So ends the news in VOA Special English.

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