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WORLD NEWS - March 21st, 2012

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  1. It is one hour 30 universal time and here is the news in special English.
  2. The top military commander in Afghanistan says American and NATO forces will remain in the country as planned. General John Allen also said the military campaign to prevent Al Qaeda from having a safe place in the country is going well, even after all the problem. General Alan spoke to a congressional committee in Washington Tuesday. He said that successes and setbacks take place in any fighting with militants. The commander said that American and Afghan forces have severely reduced the militants power. He added that Afghan forces will be ready to take responsibility for the country security as planned in 2014.
  3. Russia has offered conditional support for a United Nations Security Council resolution on a peace plan for Syria. International representative Kofi Annan developed the plan. Russia's foreign minister said the Security Council should support Mr. Annan's efforts to get all Syrians involved in the unrest to reach agreement. But * said any resolution should not place demands on the government of Syrian President Bishara Assad. Mr. Assad has been an ally of Russia for a long time. Kofi Annan sent a five-member team of international experts to Syria on Sunday to try to negotiate a cease-fire between the government and rebel forces.
  4. A serial bombings in eight Iraqi cities has killed more than 46 people and wounded over 200. The attacks come just days before Baghdad is to hold the first Arab League conference in 22 years. Iraqi police say bombs in cars and next to roads exploded almost at the same time early Tuesday. They hit Baghdad, *, the holy Shiite city of Karbala and other areas. The Associated Press reported an Iraqi Al Qaeda group claimed responsibility for an attack outside the Foreign Ministry. No one else claimed responsibility. Iraqi officials say security around Baghdad seems to have worked most of the attacks happened outside the capital city where the Arab leaders will plan together next week.
  5. A Pakistani parliamentary committee is demanding an end to American and NATO air attacks by pilotless planes and an apology from the United States. Last year a NATO airstrike mistakenly killed 24 Pakistani soldiers near the Afghan border. Committee Chairman Leon Raisa Rabbani read a report Tuesday to a joint meeting of the Pakistani parliament. It urges the United States to end all drone attacks inside Pakistan. He said the attacks destroy lives and property and create support for terrorist. But American lawmakers are rejecting those calls. Sen. Joe Lieberman told VOA the drone attacks are important to American national security. And Sen. Dianne Feinstein said drones are needed because Pakistani officials are not expelling militants near its border with Afghanistan.
  6. You are listening to the news in VOA Special English.
  7. A strong earthquake measuring 7.4 hit Mexico's Pacific coast on Tuesday. It damaged at least 800 houses, but there have been no reports of death or serious injury. The American Geological survey says the center of Tuesday's quake was near the city of Acapulco in Guerrero state. The earthquake caused buildings in Mexico City to move and it caused people to run out into the streets.
  8. A person who says he is a spokesman for Bocal Haram says the militant group has stopped talks with the Nigerian government. The person who calls himself Abdul Cocco spoke to reporters on Tuesday in the city of *. He said the militants had talked indirectly with the Nigerian government, but he said those talks had failed. The spokesman said the group will not enter into indirect talks again. Those talks were aimed at ending months of attacks by Bocal Haram in the mostly Muslim northern part of Nigeria. The group is blamed for hundreds of deaths in bombing and shooting attack.
  9. Russian President Medvedev says Russia must prepare itself to react to the American missile defense system in Europe. Mr. Medvedev told a meeting of top defense officials that Russia must be fully armed against the system by 2018. He also said his government will continue to discuss the plan with its partners. From the time, the American-led NATO defense system for Europe was announced. Russia has said it threatens its security, but American officials have promised that the system is only to protect Europe from attacks by states such as Iran or North Korea.
  10. The United Nations report accuses Israeli settlers of using violence threats and barriers to keep Palestinians from getting water in the West Bank. The UN offices for the coordination of humanitarian affairs released the report. It says settlers control more than half of the springs close to Israeli settlements. The report says Palestinian farmers are losing money because they cannot water their land and animals. Israel has not reacted to the report.
  11. Finally, this news Somali officials have reopened the country's national theater after more than 20 years hundreds of people gathered under the skies for the opening on Monday. The roof was destroyed during the countries Civil War. President Shaikh Sharif Shaikh Othman government officials and the average Somali citizens attended the event. It was celebrated with a concert broadcast on television. The president praised the performing artist as brave.
  12. And now briefly here again is the major news at this hour read in Special English. The top military commander in Afghanistan says American and NATO forces will remain in the country as planned. Russia has offered conditional support for a United Nations Security Council resolution on a peace plan for Syria. And a strong earthquake measuring 7.4 hit Mexico's Pacific coast on Tuesday. That's the news in VOA Special English from Washington.

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