A Libyan delegation says it's ready to negotiate and demands that coalition airstrikes end. And in Syria, more deadly protests. I’m Marti Johnson, reporting from Washington.
Libyan rebels, led by a barrage of Western air strikes, seized control Saturday of a strategic eastern oil town from Libyan lead Muammar Gaddafi's forces. Libyan officials are pursuing democratic and diplomatic efforts to resolve that country's crisis as international coalition forces pound government targets near rebel strongholds. A delegation representing Mr. Gaddafi says the government is ready to implement a “road map” envisioned by the African Union. But while saying it has committed to a cease-fire, the delegation also demanded an end to air strikes and the naval blockade on Libya.
Fighter pilots of the Persian Gulf nation of Qatar have become the first from an Arab country to fly combat missions over Libya. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel has details from Washington.
Admiral Gortney says Mr. Gaddafi's air force cannot fly. His warships are staying in port. His ammunition stores are being destroyed and his communications towers are being toppled. Gortney says the Pentagon has received reports that Mr. Gadhafi is now arming civilians. Admiral Gortney says Mr. Gadhafi's forces continue to operate in a number of Libyan cities, but coalition fighter pilots have been ordered not to attack targets in urban areas. Meredith Buel, VOA News, Washington.
US President Barak Obama says the US military mission in Libya is succeeding. Mr. Obama said in his weekly address that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's air defenses have been taken out and the forces pushed back from cities where Libyans have risen up against him.
"Our military mission in Libya is clear and focused. Along with our allies and partners, we are enforcing the mandate of United Nations Security Council. We are protecting the Libyan people from Gaddafi's forces. And we’ve put in place a no-fly zone, another measure to
prevent further atrocities."
Mr. Obama noted responsibility for the Libyan operation is being transferred from the US to
its NATO allies. There’s more on the story and on events in Libya on our website at voanews.com.
Protests broke out Friday across Syria with security forces opening fire, killing an undetermined number of people. There were anti-government protests in at least six Syrian cities and towns, including the capital of Damascus. Amnesty International reported Friday that at least 55 people have been killed in the past week in and around one city alone in Daraa, which is located near the Jordanian border. Protesters in Daraa on Friday pulled down a statue of the late Syrian President Hafez al-Assad, who is the father of Syria's current ruler, Bashar al-Assad.
High radiation levels at a crippled Japanese nuclear power plant continue to slow efforts to bring that situation under control. The Fukushima-1 complex has suffered repeated troubles since a massive earthquake and tsunami struke on March 11th. VOA correspondent Steve Herman reports from Tokyo.
Workers at the Fukushima-1 nuclear plant are trying to remove pools of highly radioactive water that may have seeped from reactor cores, where used fuel rods are stored at four of the six reactors. It is the latest challenge at the crippled facility, which has been beset by a series of hydrogen explosions and radiation leaks since the March 11 tsunami destroyed its cooling system. The deputy director of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, Hidehiko Nishyama, says an effort is under way to replace sea water with fresh water. Nishiyama says it is a race against time because workers have to limit their exposure to the high radiation levels. Nishiyama adds that Tokyo Electric Power Company has detected radioactive iodine 1,250 times the legal limit 300 meters offshore from the plant. Steve Herman, VOA News, Tokyo.
Burmese officials now say the death toll from Thursday's 6.8-magnitude earthquake has risen to more than 70 people, with more than 100 others injured. The quake in northeastern Burma was near the border with Thailand.
And a NATO says an airstrike targeting Taliban fighters has instead killed and wounded an unspecified number of civilians in southern Afghanistan. The international alliance called the strike Friday on two vehicles believed to be carrying a Taliban leader and his associates in Now Zad district in Helmand province. NATO says the strike was based on intelligence
reports tracking the Taliban.
Former US President Jimmy Carter is set to Cuba on Monday for a private visit. Mr. Carter's Atlanta-based Carter Center said that the former president and his wife, Rosalynn, will be in Cuba at the invitation of its government.
I'm Marti Johnson, VOA News in Washington. There’s more news on our website, 24 hours a day, voanews.com.