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Gates Accuses Burma of Criminal Neglect in Cyclone Operations


BURMA: U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has accused Burma of criminal neglect in its handling of relief efforts after a deadly cyclone. Heading to Bangkok after attending a security forum in Singapore today (Sunday), Gates told reporters that more people will die in Burma's disaster zone unless the military government lifts restrictions on foreign aid. Gates, who earlier said the Burmese government's obstruction of international aid had cost tens of thousands of lives, also said that the United States will soon make a decision on withdrawing four U.S. Navy ships waiting to help off Burma's coast. He said is becoming pretty clear that Burma's ruling generals will not accept help from the United States.

IRAQ: U.S. military deaths in Iraq plunged in May to what could be the lowest monthly total since the war began, while Iraqi military and civilian casualties also fell sharply. An independent web site (icasualties.org) reported today (Sunday) that 19 U.S. servicemen were killed in Iraq last month. If no more deaths are reported, it would surpass the previous monthly low for U.S. military deaths - 20, in February of 2004. Nearly 41-hundred U.S. military deaths have occurred since the war began more than five years ago. The Iraqi Health and Defense Ministries said their figures for May show about 550 Iraqi civilians and security forces were killed last month, down from more than one-thousand in April.

LEBANON-ISRAEL: A senior Hezbollah official says the Shiite militia group has handed over the remains of several Israeli soldiers killed in the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war in Lebanon to the International Committee of the Red Cross for delivery to Israel. Hezbollah security official Wafik Safa announced the release today (Sunday) at the Lebanese border town of Naqoura minutes after the arrival of Nasim Nisr, a Lebanese man released from jail hours earlier by Israel. The ICRC accompanied Nisr into Lebanon following his release from the Nitzan Prison in central Israel where he had served a six-year term for allegedly spying for Hezbollah.

ISRAEL-JERUSALEM: srael's Housing Minister, Zeev Boim, is scheduled to announce later today (Sunday) plans for the construction of nearly 900 more homes for Israelis in east Jerusalem, which Palestinians want as the capital of their future state. A ministry spokesman (Eran Sidis) said today the government will invite tenders for 121 housing units in Har Homa and 763 in Pisgat Zeev, two large Jewish neighborhoods in Arab east Jerusalem.

MACEDONIA ELECTION: Violence has marred voting in Macedonian parliamentary elections, which are seen as a crucial test for the Balkan country's aspirations of joining NATO and the European Union. Election officials say voting was suspended for security reasons (today/Sunday) in the village of Aracinovo, near the capital of Skopje, after a shooting there wounded one person.

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