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01/25/06 World News: Palestinians Vote in First Parliamentary Elections in 10 years


Palestinians are voting in their first parliamentary elections in a decade -- a ballot that could bring the militant Islamic group Hamas into the government. Opinion surveys indicate Hamas, which is contesting for the first time, is running nearly even with the governing Fatah party in the race for the 132-member Palestinian Legislative Council. Israel has not publicly said what it will do if Hamas gains a strong presence in a new Palestinian government. Pollsters say they expect at least 75 percent of nearly one-point-four million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem to cast ballots

Iran's top nuclear official says Tehran is "positive" about Moscow's proposal to enrich uranium on Russian soil for use in Iran's reactors. However, Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani told reporters in Moscow today (Wednesday) that the two countries have yet to reach an agreement on the plan. Larijani, who is discussing the nuclear issue with Russian officials, also repeated Tehran's threat of resuming industrial-scale uranium enrichment if it is referred to the U.N. Security Council.

Top international health organizations are warning the spread of H.I.V. in China is worsening, even as new official figures show a decline in the number of people in the country living with the virus that causes AIDS. The World Health Organization, the United Nations' AIDS agency and China's Ministry of Health released a joint statement today (Wednesday) saying the number of known H.I.V./AIDS cases was estimated at 650-thousand in 2005. That figure is down from a 2003 government estimate of 840-thousand

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun is warning of possible friction with the United States if officials in Washington try to force the collapse of North Korea's government. Speaking in Seoul today (Wednesday), Mr. Roh said he opposes what he called "some opinions within the United States" that appear to favor toppling North Korea's communist regime. But Mr. Roh stressed that, right now, there are no problems between Seoul and Washington, because U.S. policy does not support overthrowing North Korea's leaders. He said both countries agree on how to try to resolve the North Korean nuclear dispute.

Reports from Thailand say a moderate earthquake has hit Burma's Shan State, bot no damage has been reported. Thai officials say the epicenter of the five-point-seven magnitude quake was in eastern Burma.

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