AFGHANISTAN - VIOLENCE:
Afghan officials say at least 19 people have been killed and 46 others
wounded in nearly simultaneous suicide bomb attacks in the capital,
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attacks Wednesday in phone
calls to VOA and other reporters in Kabul. Afghan officials at least
seven militants died in the assault.
A reported five suicide bombers, armed with automatic weapons, attacked
the Afghan Justice Ministry at about 5:30 UTC in the center of Kabul
near the presidential palace.
A VOA correspondent at the scene says the Afghan army and police have sealed off the surrounding area.
ZIMBABWE: Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has been sworn in as the country's prime minister in a new unity government.
President Robert Mugabe administered the oath of office to his longtime
rival Wednesday at a ceremony in Harare attended by several regional
The two men agreed to form a unity government after southern African
leaders put intense pressure on them to implement a power-sharing deal
they reached last year.
Talks on the composition of the government had stalled for months as they disagreed over how to divide the cabinet.
ISRAEL - ELECTION: Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and opposition leader Benjamin
Netanyahu are both claiming victory in Tuesday's parliamentary election.
With 99 percent of the votes counted early Wednesday, Ms. Livni's
centrist Kadima Party was leading Mr. Netanyahu's Likud Party by one
seat. Neither party won a majority.
But nationalist and religious parties, including Likud, together won 65
of the 120 seats in the assembly. That could make it hard for Ms. Livni
to form a governing coalition.
Mr. Netanyahu said he expects to be the next prime minister.
US ECONOMY: U.S. lawmakers have begun talks aimed at reaching a compromise on a more than $800 billion economic stimulus plan.
The U.S. Senate approved its version of the bill on Tuesday. The Senate
measure must now be reconciled with a slightly different version of the
measure adopted by the House of Representatives.
President Barack Obama says he wants the bill signed by February 16th,
in order to begin pulling the U.S. economy out of a recession. He says
every day of delay means more Americans lose their jobs, their savings
and their homes.
CHINA - TRADE: China suffered its worst decline in exports in more than a decade last
month, underscoring the toll the global recession is taking on the
world's third-largest economy.
China's customs agency released a report Wednesday showing the nation's
exports in January plunged more than 17 percent from the year before.
Last month's decline was also far worse than the nearly three percent
drop reported in December.
The drop in exports is due to falling global demand for Chinese
products in the face of the current economic downturn.
CHINA - TIBET: Chinese authorities say they have tried and sentenced 76 people in
connection with last year's anti-government protests in the Tibetan
capital of Lhasa.
The figures were given Wednesday by Nyima Cering, the vice chairman of
Tibet's regional parliament. He said more than 950 others have been
Demonstrators took to the streets of Lhasa last March to protest more
than 50 years of rule by the Chinese communists. The protests turned
violent and spread to other Tibetan areas in western China before the
military imposed a harsh crackdown.
JAPAN - KOREAS: Japan and South Korea are urging North Korea to tone down its recent threatening statements against its democratic rival.
Japanese Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone and his South Korean
counterpart, Yu Myung-hwan, issued the call after a holding talks
Wednesday in Seoul. The diplomats described Pyongyang's recent rhetoric
as unhelpful, and urged the regime to act in a way that would lead to
stability in the region.
Tensions on the Korean peninsula have escalated in recent weeks, ever
since North Korea scrapped all political and military agreements with
Seoul, and nullified a agreement with South Korea over their border in
the Yellow Sea.
IRAN - US: Iran's foreign ministry spokesman says the United States needs to stop
making what he called "baseless" allegations against Tehran if
Washington wants talks with its longtime adversary.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday said Iran welcomes talks with the United States based on "mutual respect."
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Qashqavi on Wednesday said that means Washington must stop accusing Iran of wrongdoing.
The U.S. government has long considered Iran a sponsor of terrorism,
and also says it fears Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons.
Listen to our World News in details.