World briefs 10/22/05

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Iran's supreme leader praises Iraq referendum

TEHRAN, Iran -- Iran's supreme leader, long a critic of the United States, praised the U.S.-backed constitutional referendum in Iraq as "blessed" Friday. Delivering a prayer sermon at Tehran University, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei condemned those behind the daily bombings in Iraq. "What is the difference between those who detonate bombs and kill people today and Saddam, who is on trial for killing people in the past?" Khamenei asked. He said the Oct. 15 referendum on the Iraqi constitution was a "great and blessed job." The Iraqi electoral commission said Friday that 63 percent of Iraq's registered voters had cast ballots in the referendum, a turnout higher than expected. The results of the referendum have been delayed by a vote audit.

Britain and Croatia confirm bird flu cases

LONDON -- Britain and Croatia confirmed cases of bird flu on Friday as countries around the world scrambled to put in place measures to prevent the spread of the virus. In Croatia, the Agriculture Ministry said the country's first cases of bird flu were confirmed in six swans found dead in a national park. British officials said a parrot that had been imported from South America died of bird flu in quarantine. In both cases, authorities did not know if the birds had the deadly H5N1 strain that has devastated poultry stocks across Asia and killed 60 people in the last two years. The strain has recently been found in birds in Russia, Turkey and Romania.

British commemorate anniversary of Trafalgar

PORTSMOUTH, England Queen Elizabeth II lit a beacon Friday to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar, in which Britain's Royal Navy defeated the French and Spanish fleets and cemented its naval supremacy for the next century. Bells tolled aboard British vessels around the world and wreaths were laid at the site of the decisive battle just off Cape Trafalgar in southwestern Spain. The victory by an outnumbered British fleet on Oct. 21, 1805, lifted the threat of invasion by the armies of Napoleon and helped ensure Britain's place as the world's dominant naval power.

-- From wire reports

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