- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 8, 2008


Many in Arab world illiterate, report says

TUNIS — Nearly one in three people in the Arab world is illiterate, including nearly half of all women in the region, the Tunis-based Arab League Educational Cultural and Scientific Organization said yesterday.

Three-quarters of the 100 million people unable to read or write in the 21 Arab countries are between 15 and 45 years old, the Arab League group said.

In addition, 46.5 percent of women in the region are illiterate, the organization reported.


Most Palestinians see talks failing

RAMALLAH — Most Palestinians expect the revived peace talks with Israel to fail, according to a poll released yesterday, before President Bush’s visit.

A total of 69.5 percent of those polled said the peace talks restarted at a November conference in Annapolis will “certainly fail” or “fail,” according to the survey by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research. Only 22.5 percent of respondents said the talks will “certainly succeed” or “succeed,” it said.

Almost 80 percent said that the Annapolis conference did not give an impulse to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, compared with 11 percent who thought otherwise.


Agreement signed on governing coalition

PRISTINA — Kosovo’s prime minister designate, Hashim Thaci, sealed an agreement yesterday on a governing coalition expected to lead the ethnic-‘Albanian-majority province to independence from Serbia early this year.

The Democratic Party (PDK) leader and former guerrilla fighter signed a deal with the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) after weeks of wrangling over Cabinet posts.

Parliament is expected to vote on the “grand coalition” tomorrow, almost two months after Mr. Thaci’s PDK beat the once-dominant LDK of Kosovo President Fatmir Sejdiu in a November parliamentary election.


Health care struggles to match growth

BEIJING — China’s health care system is struggling to keep pace with the country’s economic growth and faces a major challenge in looking after its 1.3 billion people, the health minister said yesterday.

China embarked on massive economic reforms three decades ago and has since abandoned a cradle-to-grave welfare system, causing hardships for millions left behind by rapid development.

Health Minister Chen Zhu, speaking at a forum in Beijing, said: “There is still a significant gap between the Party and State Council’s requirements and people’s new expectations.”


U.N. concerned over flooding

MAPUTO — The United Nations said yesterday it would take urgent measures to help victims of floods in central Mozambique that have driven thousands from their homes.

The floods, fed by heavy rains from Zambia and Zimbabwe, have killed six persons and cut major transport links to neighboring countries.

Waters that had reached a depth of 18 feet forced some people to seek refuge in trees and on rooftops. Zambia also has been hit by flooding, with the government placing nearly half the country on flood alert and farmers expressing fears of crop damage, particularly in the south.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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