English Service News
29.01.07, 17:00 Uhr UTC


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Today's highlight on DW-WORLD:

EU Pledges Aid to Afghanistan to Fight Corruption, Drug Trade

The European Union on Monday announced an aid package to
Afghanistan worth 600 million euros ($775 million) over
the next four years.

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Suicide bomber kills three in Israel

At least three people have been killed after a suicide bomber
attacked a bakery in the Israeli resort town of Eilat. It was the
first suicide bombing in Israel in nine months and the first ever to
hit Israel's southern-most city. A spokesman for the governing
Palestinian militant group Hamas described the bombing as a "natural
response" to Israeli policy. Three Palestinian militant groups,
Islamic Jihad, the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, and a previously
unknown group calling itself the Army of Believers, have claimed
joint responsibility for the attack.

Factional fighting rages in Gaza

At least five more Palestinians have been killed in clashes between
supporters of the governing militant group Hamas and the Fatah Party
of President Mahmoud Abbas. The violence has scuppered talks on
forming a national unity government and left the Gaza Strip
teetering on the brink of an all-out civil war. Saudi Arabia's King
Abdullah has offered to hold talks in the Muslim holy city of Mecca
to stop the fighting. The proposal has been welcomed by the leaders
of both Hamas and Fatah, but no date for the meeting has been set.

Hundreds of militants slain in Iraq battle

Iraqi officials say at least 300 militants have been killed in
battles between US-backed Iraqi troops and insurgents in the holy
city of Najaf. A US helicopter crashed during the fight, killing two
American soldiers. The day-long fighting erupted on Sunday as Shiite
pilgrims flocked to the nearby shrine city of Karbala to mark
Ashura, the holiest Shiite mourning ritual. The ceremony has become
a target of Sunni insurgents in past years and security forces have
stepped up measures to thwart any possible assault on the pilgrims.
In separate incidents Monday, at least nine people were killed in
separate bomb and shooting attacks in Baghdad, including four who
died when their minibus was blown up by a makeshift bomb.

UN chief urges support for Darfur

Ghana has been selected to take over the presidency of the African
Union. Leaders from the AU's 53 member states meeting in the
Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, chose Ghana despite a promise made
last year that Sudan would be appointed. Many of the delegates
argued that Sudan was not suitable due to the ongoing violence in
that country's western Darfur region. Earlier at the summit, United
Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on AU leaders to help
end the violence in Darfur by backing the deployment of a joint UN
and African peacekeeping force. An estimated 200 thousand people
have been killed and more than two million others displaced since
the conflict there broke out four years ago.

Congo rebel leader to face trial at ICC

The International Criminal Court has confirmed that Democratic
Republic of Congo rebel leader Thomas Lubanga Dyilo is to face
trial on war-crimes charges. Judges at the ICC ruled that there was
enough evidence to prosecute Lubanga for allegedly forcing children
to join his militia during the country's civil war in 2002-03. The
ruling in The Hague opens the way for the court's first trial since
it was set up in 2002. The ICC is the first permanent international
judicial body for trying war crimes.

EU announces more aid to Afghanistan

The European Union has announced an aid package to Afghanistan worth
600 million euros over the next four years. EU commissioner for
external relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner said the funding would go
towards bolstering the judiciary in Afghanistan to help fight
corruption, as well as towards developing alternative crops to
combat the narcotics trade in the country. The funding boost was
announced at a meeting in Berlin of the so-called EU troika which
groups German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, EU foreign
policy chief Javier Solana and Portuguese Foreign Minister Luis
Amado. The meeting is also being attended by Afghan Foreign Minister
Rangeen Dadfar Spanta.

Kyrgystan approves new prime minister

The parliament of the Central Asian republic of Kyrgyzstan has
approved a new prime minister. The move puts an end to an almost
two-week deadlock over candidates for the post. Azim Isabekov was
named prime minister in a 57-4 parliamentary vote. The 46-year-old,
who had previously been agriculture minister, is a lifelong
politician and former head of the administration of Kyrgyz President
Kurmanbek Bakiyev. The president had initially nominated the former
prime minister, Felix Kulov, as his preferred candidate. But
deputies twice rejected Kulov's candidacy.

BA cabin crews call off strike

British Airways says it has reached an agreement with a union
representing cabin crews to prevent a strike that had been planned
for Tuesday. The airline's chief executive, Willie Walsh said that
while BA was pleased to have avoided a two-day work stoppage, the
agreement came too late to prevent some disruption to its flights.
No details of the agreement have been released. There was no
immediate comment from the Transport & General Workers Union.

Germany to phase out coal subsidies

A draft agreement has been reached to end the public subsidies that
have kept Germany's coal industry afloat for the past few decades.
The agreement came during a meeting of government representatives
with the coal-mining company, Ruhrkohle, and trade unions in Berlin.
The plan calls for the subsidies to end in 2018, but it is to be
reviewed in five years' time. The deal is aimed as softening the
blow of layoffs in an industry that employs more than 30 thousand
people. The subsidies currently amount to about 2.5 billion euros

Al Gore gives Prince Charles environmental award

Former US Vice President Al Gore has presented Britain's Prince
Charles with an award for his work on behalf of the environment.
Gore, who served under President Clinton in the 1990s, presented
Charles with the Global Environmental Citizen Award, given by the
Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical
School as the Prince of Wales and his wife, Camilla, wrapped up a
weekend trip to the United States. The royal couple's visit to the
US focused on youth development, urban renewal and environmental


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