Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas say they have reached an agreement to free an Israeli soldier held in the Gaza Strip. In exchange, Israel will free more than one thousand Palestinian prisoners. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the Egyptian-negotiated agreement late Tuesday. He said if all goes as planned Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit should be home within days. The soldier was captured in June of two thousand six. Hamas leader Khaled Meshel confirmed a deal had been reached. News of the deal set off wild celebrations in Gaza and other areas. Israel's top security official denied reports that the most famous Palestinian prisoner, Marwan Barghouti would be included in the exchange.
Fighters for the new government in Libya say they are now in control of the police headquarters in Sirte. They claim they are close to taking full control of the city. Witnesses say National Transitional Council forces could be seen firing shots into the air in celebration. In the past few days NTC fighters in Sirte have captured the city's main hospital, the university and a convention center. Supporters of former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi had used the convention center as their main base of operation.
Thousands of Yemenis have demonstrated in the capital, Sana'a. The protests took place Tuesday. At the same time, Britain's United Nations diplomats discussed a possible resolution on Yemen with U.N. Security Council members. The measure would urge President Ali Abdullah Saleh to support a Gulf Co-operation Council proposal that calls for him to surrender power. The U.N.'s special representative for Yemen warned that the security situation in the country has grown worse.
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The United States Senate has rejected President Obama's plan to create millions of jobs through government work programs and tax help for businesses. Democratic party members of the Senate asked for the vote. They wanted to see if the bill could be brought to a full debate and final consideration. Mr. Obama said the measure would put thousands teachers, police and other Americans back to work. He said taxes for workers and small businesses would be cut. He also said his opponents can try to explain to Americans demanding action why they rejected the plan. He said the Senate vote is not the end of fight and he will now work with Senate leaders to enact parts of the bill one by one.
A peaceful day of voting has ended in Liberia. It was the second time national elections have been held since the end of a civil war. Many people arrived at voting stations during the night so they could be among the first to vote. Election observers told the Voice of America that most voting stations opened as planned. They also reported no major problems, even with heavy rain falling in parts of Liberia. President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is facing a difficult fight for a second term. After voting in her home village, she admitted that many Liberians are still poor but said that she has a very good chance for re-election.
The United States Senate has passed a bill that could lead to action against China or any country found to unfairly control the value of its money. The bill would permit American action if the Treasury Department finds a country is manipulating its money and not taking steps to fix it. The proposed law also makes it easier for American companies to seek taxes on foreign imports. Many American lawmakers say Chinese monetary manipulation helps to increase sales of Chinese goods on world markets. They have said the Chinese actions make American goods more costly.
The United States says it is deeply disappointed by the judgement and sentencing of Ukraine's former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. The Obama administration said Ms. Tymoshenko's trial has raised concerns about Ukraine's commitment to democracy and the rule of law. It called for her release. Earlier, Russia criticized Ukraine for sentencing the former prime minister to seven years in prison. She was accused of abusing power in connection with a natural gas deal she negotiated with Russia in two thousand nine. Ukraine's government says the deal has caused a budget loss of two hundred million dollars.
Two Italian men have walked for more than five hundred fifty kilometers to meet with Pope Benedict at the Vatican. The two men say they were sexually abused by Roman Catholic clergymen. Their protest walk failed when the pope refused to meet with them. They had hoped new attention to the sexual abuse problem would lead to an independent investigation. Instead, they gave a letter to a Vatican official. The letter demanded rules that require clergy who sexually abuse children to be removed from the ministry.
The United States Justice Department has accused two Iranians of plotting to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States. Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas say they have reached an agreement to free Israeli soldier Gilat Shalit. And, the United States Senate has rejected President Obama's plan to create millions of jobs.
That's the news in VOA Special English coming your way from Washington.