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01/02/06 World News: Russia Says Ukraine Diverted Natural Gas Worth $25 Million


Moscow charges that Ukraine has illegally diverted 25 million dollars' worth of natural gas from a Russian supply network that passes through Ukraine on the way to other European countries. Officials of Russia's state-run gas monopoly Gazprom say Ukraine has siphoned off 100 million cubic meters of natural gas intended for customers in western Europe. Ukraine denies the charge, saying its gas supplies are either imported from Turkmenistan or come from Ukraine's own underground reserves. However, Gazprom contends it can prove there was a theft of Russian gas

The United Nations commission investigating the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri is asking for an interview with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. A spokesman for the commission says (Monday) a request has already been sent to Damascus, seeking permission for investigators to interview President Assad and his foreign minister, Farouq al-Shara. The U.N. commission also wants to meet with former Syrian Vice President Abdel-Halim Khaddam, who (resigned last year and) now lives in Paris.

China has raised its estimate for economic growth in 2005 to nine-point-eight percent. That is an increase of point-four percent from the government's previous figure. The new number was released Sunday by Ou Xinqian, vice minister of China's National Development and Reform Commission. The official Xinhua News Agency says the Commission adjusted its growth estimate because recent data shows China's economy in 2004 was much bigger than previously thought. Last month, the government raised its national output figure for 2004 by 16-point-eight percent over the original estimate. Officials said service industries accounted for most of the revision.

Thai police say two people are dead after a military patrol was ambushed by suspected militants today (Monday) in Yala province. Authorities say a soldier and one of the militants were killed in the attack. Two soldiers were wounded. More than a thousand people have died in near-daily shootings, bombings and arson attacks in Thailand's southernmost provinces in the past two years.

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