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WORLD NEWS - May 20th, 2011



It is 00:30 universal time and here is the news in Special English.

President Obama has welcomed the change taking place in the Middle East and North Africa, but he says too many countries have met calls for change with violence. President Obama made the comments in a speech Thursday. He said the most extreme example is Libya, where Moammar Gadhafi has launched a war against his own people. Mr. Obama also called on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to lead a transition to democracy or in his words "get out of the way." President Obama spoke about the events in Egypt and Tunisia. He noted that in the last six months their leaders have resigned. He said more may follow as people rise up to demand their basic rights. Mr. Obama said it will be the policy of the United States to support reform across the Middle East area and support a change to democracy.

President Obama says he supports a Palestinian demand for borders of its future state based on those existing before the 1967 Six-Day War with Israel. Mr. Obama made the statement in a speech on Middle East policy Thursday. He said each side should agree on the exchange of land, so secure and recognized borders can be established for both states. Mr. Obama said the Palestinians might have a right to govern themselves in their own state, he said they must have a right. He also said Israel has a right to defend itself, and a Palestinian state must be non-militarized. Before Thursday's speech the administration had side both sides must compromise on the border issue. In 2004, American President George W. Bush said Israel should not be forced to withdraw to the borders that existed before 1967. Palestinians claimed the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem areas that Israel captured in the 1967 war.

Former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn may be released from jail in New York City as early as Friday. He faces charges that he sexually assaulted and attempted to rape a female hotel worker. He will remain free before his trial after paying 21733 million. He must also offer his family home as a $5 million security to guarantee that he will appear in court. Government lawyers opposed his request to be freed. They said he is rich and knows people who would help him leave the United States. Mr. Strauss-Kahn could face a long prison sentence if found guilty. The IMF chief resigned his position Wednesday. He strongly denies the charges against him. When he is released from jail he will be under house arrest and will be watched by an armed security officer at all times. He will also wear an electronic device that records where he is.

In Syria, witnesses say government troops and tanks have started leaving a town near the Lebanese border. The witnesses said tanks and buses carrying soldiers started leaving Talkalakh on Thursday. Security forces first moved into Talkalakh and the nearby village of Arida Saturday because pro-democracy protesters had gathered there. Talkalakh is the latest town to join in the two-month old anti-government uprising. Gunfire and shelling shook Talkalakh and Arida until the withdrawal began. Syrian rights groups say security forces have killed at least 27 people in Talkalakh since Saturday. Also Thursday, Syria said the restrictions placed by the United States on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and six of his aides were an effort to serve Israeli interests.

NATO says its airstrikes have been extremely damaging to pro-government forces in Libya. NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen spoke Thursday. He predicted that continued military and political pressure along with opposition support would in time lead to the collapse of Mr. Gadhafi's government. In another development, Libyan and Tunisian officials denied reports that Mr. Gadhafi's wife and daughter had crossed into Tunisia.

You are listening to the news in VOA Special English.

A series of bombings has killed at least 27 people and injured 69 in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk. The deaths resulted from two bombings that took place near a police headquarters on Thursday. Police officials say the first bomb went off in the building's parking lot. And a nearby car exploded a few minutes later, as police officers rushed to the area. Officials say less than an hour later, at least eight other security officers were wounded in another incident. Police say a bomb exploded near a group of police vehicles in the city. This is the second time this month that Iraqi police have been the target of bombings.

The head of the European Commission says Serbia must fully cooperate with a war crimes court to become a candidate to join the European Union. Jose Manuel Barroso met with Serbian President Boris Tadic and Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic Thursday in Belgrade. He said Serbia is making progress, but he says it must capture two war crimes suspects by this summer, or it may not be permitted to start the process of entering the EU. Serbia hopes to become a candidate by the end of this year. Also Thursday, the United Nations chief war crimes lawyer for the former Yugoslavia said Serbia has not done enough to capture the two suspects. Serge Brammertz said Serbia has not tried hard enough to find former Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic and Croatian Serb Goran Hadzic.

At least 1,500 demonstrators have gathered at the parliament building in Kyiv, Ukraine. They are protesting rising prices for food and energy. Prices have increased in recent months as the government has cut spending to receive a 217335 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund.

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

President Obama has welcomed the change taking place in the Middle East and North Africa. He also said he supports borders of a future Palestinian state based on those existing before the 1967 Six-Day War with Israel. And in Syria, witnesses say government troops and tanks have started leaving a town near the Lebanese border.

That's the news in VOA Special English from Washington.

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