It is 23:30 universal time and here is the news in Special
English on the Voice of America. I'm Jim Tedder in Washington.
1.President Bush is cancelling taxes on steel imported into
the United States. A Bush Administration official and trade
representative Robert Zoellick announced the cancellation.
The taxes were ordered in March of last year. They were to
be effective for three years. The World Trade Organization
ruled recently that the import taxes were illegal. In another
development, the European Union said it will suspend plans
for new taxes on American goods. European Trade Commissioner
Pascal Lamy told reporters in Belgium that EU members would
end their owned measures to block steel imports.
2.American Secretary of State Colin Powell says NATO members
are discussing a possible greater involvement for the alliance
in Iraq. Secretary Powell told reporters in Brussels that
no NATO member spoke against the possibility. Members France
and Germany have opposed the American-led invasion of Iraq.
Mr. Powell urged the 19 NATO ministers to examine what the
alliance can do to support peace and security in Iraq. But
he also said NATO should place immediate importance on Afghanistan.
The NATO meeting is expected to last two days. The ministers
also are discussing European Union proposals for a separate
EU defense structure.
3.Pakistan has welcomed an official confirmation by India's
Prime Minister that he will visit Islamabad next month. Atal
Behari Vajpayee is expected there for a meeting of South Asian
leaders. A Pakistani official says Mr.Vajpayee sent a letter
saying he would attend. The letter reportedly would send to
Pakistan's Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamal. Leaders
of the seven nations South Asian Association for regional
cooperation will meet in Islamabad in early January.
4.American Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says he believes
that Taliban forces will not return to power in Afghanistan.
Mr.Rumsfeld met in Kabul with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
Mr.Karzai said Afghanistan is moving toward democracy and
Taliban cannot stop the process. Mr.Karzai thanked the United
States for its agreement to provide two thousand million more
dollars in aid. Earlier Mr.Rumsfeld visited the Afghan city,
Mazar-e-Sharif. He met with the new governor, a police chief
and two local leaders. Also, Afghan officials say suspected
Taliban fighters attacked a group of vehicles in Fara province.
One person was killed and several others injured.
5.In Poland, a helicopter carrying Prime Minister Leszek
Miller has crashed near Warsaw. Doctors say Mr.Miller has
damaged two bones in his back. They say he is in good condition
but will stay in the hospital. Seven other people on the helicopter
were injured. The Polish Prime Minister was returning from
a visit to southwestern Poland. Officials say the engine on
the helicopter may have failed.
You are listening to the news in VOA Special English.
6.Several Palestinian groups are meeting in Egypt. They are
discussing a possible ceasefire with Israel as a first step
toward restarting peace talks. Officials say Palestinian Prime
Minister Ahmed Qureia plans to join the talks Friday. Hamas
and other groups say Israel must end operations against militants
before a ceasefire can be considered. Egypt's Intelligence
Chief has urged the Palestinians to agree to a total ceasefire
on the condition that Israel does the same.
7.In Washington President Bush met Thursday with King Abdullah
of Jordan. The Jordanian leader said he expects to see small
steps toward progress in the peace process. Also American
Secretary of State Colin Powell plans to meet Friday with
the people who wrote a peace plan known as the Geneva Accord.
Israeli officials have criticized the planned meeting.
8.Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov says both Russia and
the United States want to assist Georgia. The Russian official
also said events in Georgia would not affect his country’s
relations with the United States. He said Russia and America
have any interest in preventing unrest in the Caucasus area.
Mr.Igor Ivanov spoke after meeting with the American Secretary
of State Colin Powell in Belgium. Earlier in Georgia, an American
official announced five million dollars in emergency aid for
the former Soviet Republic. The United States provides about
one hundred ten million dollars in aid to Georgia each year.
9.In Ivory Coast, President Laurent Gbagbo says rebels have
agreed to start disarming on December fifteenth. Mr.Gbagbo
announced the agreement after meeting with the army officials
and rebel delegates in the capital Yamoussoukro. A rebel delegate
says the agreement calls for both rebel forces and Ivory Coast's
army to give up their weapons. More talks are planned for
December 10th in Bouake, a city held by rebel forces.
10.The International Police Agency Interpol has called for
the arrest of former Liberian President Charles Taylor. Interpol
warned that Mr.Taylor may be dangerous. A United Nationals
supported court is seeking to try Mr.Taylor for war crimes
carried out during a civil war in Sierra Leone . Mr.Taylor
currently has an asylum in Nigeria. A spokeswoman for Nigerian
President Olusegun Obasanjo says he will not release Mr.Taylor
to the court. The United States welcomed Interpol's call for
the arrest of Mr.Taylor. But an American official said the
Bush Administration would not pressure the government of Nigeria.
And now briefly, here again is the major news of the hour.
President Bush is cancelling taxes on steel imported into
the United States. American Secretary of State Colin Powell
says NATO members are discussing calls to increase the alliance's
involvement in Iraq. And a helicopter carrying Polish Prime
Minister Leszek Miller has crashed near Warsaw. Doctors say
he is in good condition.