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By Compiled from wire service reports by Robert Kilborn and Ross Atkin / April 25, 2005



Iraq's new government is expected to be announced Monday, with interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi and his party having no role in it, informed sources in Baghdad said. His aides said he'd still give the new government his full support. His party finished third in Iraq's Jan. 30 election, but the top vote-getters decided that finding a role for Sunni Muslims, who boycotted it, was a higher priority than including Allawi in the government, reports said.

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The leaders of Japan and China appeared to have papered over the worst dispute between their governments in 30 years. Meeting on the sidelines of a regional conference in Indonesia, Juni-chiro Koizumi and Hu Jintao, respectively, agreed to work toward greater bilateral friendship. But the meeting came only after Koizumi made a public apology for Japanese military atrocities elsewhere in Asia before and during World War II.

More than 100 tanks and truckloads of soldiers crossed from Lebanon's Bekaa Valley into Syria Sunday, leaving only a token force for "an official farewell" Tuesday, a spokes-man for the Damascus government said. Following the ceremony, he said, that force also will return home. Syria, which has pledged a full withdrawal by April 30, maintained at least 14,000 troops in Lebanon when the pullout began March 8.

The BBC was at the center of a new firestorm in Britain after it admitted to planting hecklers with microphones at a campaign rally by Conservative Party leader Michael Howard. The BBC said it was gathering material for a program on the art of political heckling and had been "observing" other parties' campaigns as well. But The Telegraph (London) reported that no gatherings of Prime Minister Tony Blair's Labour Party were similarly disrupted. In 2003, the top two BBC executives resigned after a high-level investigation slammed its report claiming that the Blair government had "sexed up" intelligence on Iraq's weapons program.

His new cabinet in place, beleaguered Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was sworn in Saturday for what he hopes will be the remainder of his term. Critics accused him of reappointing most of the same ministers who were in his cabinet when he resigned last week to avoid the collapse of his ruling coalition. But he did announce formation of a new unit - the Ministry of Development and Territorial Cohesion. His five-year term expires next year.

An estimated 350,000 people jammed St. Peter's Square in Rome for the installation of Pope Benedict XVI as the new leader of the Roman Catholic Church. Applause interrupted his homily more than 40 times as he spoke of confronting a "spiritual wasteland" and of reaching out to other faiths.

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