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Iraqis fete U.S. troop pullout from cities

BAGHDAD, June 30 (UPI) -- Iraq declared Tuesday National Sovereignty Day as U.S. combat troops turned over security duties to Iraqi forces.

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On the eve of the hand-off, four U.S. troops died of combat-related injuries, the U.S. military said in a news release issued Tuesday. The soldiers were stationed in Baghdad. Details about the incident weren't released.

On Monday, the U.S. military turned over to the Iraqis control of the one-time defense ministry complex that was the joint base for U.S. and Iraqi forces, USA Today reported.

Speaking at a military parade inside the Green Zone, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said, "The national united government succeeded in putting down the sectarian war that was threatening the unity and the sovereignty of Iraq."

Thousands of Iraqis gathered in Baghdad's Zawra Park for a concert to mark the milestone, part of a security agreement that requires all U.S. combat troops to leave Iraq by Aug. 31, 2010.

In Basra, "No No Americans" was spray-painted on walls, The Washington Post reported. Another graffiti artist wrote: "Pull your troops from our Basra. We are its sons and want its sovereignty."

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Banners around Baghdad proclaimed: "On the day of sovereignty, we're lighting candles for a better future."

U.S. forces were being deployed to borders and areas around Baghdad and Mosul, where U.S. commanders said they hope troops can interdict militants and weapons.

"We are grateful for what the U.S. military did in toppling Saddam Hussein's regime and fighting the militias and al-Qaida," Iraqi government spokesman Tahseen al-Sheikhly said. "What we need now is their help rebuilding our country."

Under terms of the security agreement, U.S. troops vacated all but a few outposts in Baghdad and are available if Iraqi authorities request assistance, The New York Times reported.


Child found among plane wreckage

MORONI, Comoros, June 30 (UPI) -- Search crews have rescued a child from among the bodies and wreckage of a Yemeni airplane that crashed into the Indian Ocean, officials said Tuesday

The child was the first person found alive from the Yemenia Air Flight IY626, which was carrying more than 150 people en route to the island nation of Comoros from Sanaa, Yemen's capital, CNN reported.

The Airbus A300-310 with 153 passengers and crew of 11 was traveling from Sanaa to Moroni, the capital of Comoros, Yemeni news agency SABA reported. CNN reported 142 passengers and 11 crew members were aboard.

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The crash occurred as the plane approached the Hahaya Airport in Moroni, Comoran Vice President Idi Nadhoim said. The plane tried but failed to land and then U-turned before it crashed.

Rescue teams, including foreign ships and planes, were searching for any survivors, SABA reported. A team led by the Yemeni transport minister will investigate the crash, initially blamed on bad weather.


Dozen killed in train explosion in Italy

VIAREGGIO, Italy, June 30 (UPI) -- At least a dozen people died in the explosion of gas tanks aboard a train passing through a station in Viareggio in western Italy, officials said.

Media reports Tuesday conflicted about the number of dead. CNN reported 11 and the Italian news agency ANSA reported 12. About three dozen people were injured, 15 critically, officials said.

Antonio Garufi, a local government official, said the train was traveling from La Spezia to Pisa when the explosion occurred Monday, CNN said. The station and a few nearby buildings caught fire and were evacuated, he added.


Book deal for former Edwards aide

NEW YORK, June 30 (UPI) -- A former aide to John Edwards claims the former U.S. senator asked him to say he fathered a child with Edwards' mistress, a publishing industry source said.

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The aide, Andrew Young, has sold a proposal to St. Martin's Press for a book in which he would say Edwards told him he "would be taken care of for life" if he would say he was the father of a baby born to Rielle Hunter. Edwards -- who represented North Carolina for one term in the U.S. Senate and was the Democratic Party vice presidential nominee in 2004 -- has admitted an affair with Hunter but has denied he is the baby's father.

In the proposal, Young quotes Edwards as begging him to claim he is the father of Hunter's child, The New York Times reported.

"'You know how much I love you,' Edwards said. 'You know I'd walk off a cliff for you, and I know you'd walk off a cliff for me,'" Young wrote in the pitch for his book. "'I will never forget this. And I will always be there for you.'"

The newspaper cited a book publishing executive as the source for its information about the proposal, which Young sold to St. Martin's last week. The price has not been reported.

Young wrote in the proposal that he had been questioned by the FBI and subpoenaed to appear before a federal grand jury. Prosecutors are looking into whether Edwards' campaign funds were used in any possible effort to keep the affair with Hunter from being exposed.

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Poll: Obama is most trusted world leader

COLLEGE PARK, Md., June 30 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama is the most trusted leader in the world, a survey conducted in 20 nations indicated.

The poll, conducted April 4 to June 12 by WorldPublicOpinion.org, found 61 percent of those surveyed expressed a lot or some confidence in Obama. The finding, released Monday, comes one year after former President George W. Bush was found in the survey to be one of the world's least trusted leaders.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon ranked second in the current poll. The survey said Ban's evaluations across all countries polled were positive.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin registered the most negative confidence ratings among all world leaders.

WorldPublicOpinion.org -- a research project utilizing research centers around the world and managed by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland -- surveyed 19,224 respondents in nations that account for 62 percent of the global population, including China, India, the United States, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Russia. The poll was also conducted in Mexico, Germany, Great Britain, France, Egypt, Turkey, Iraq and South Korea.

"At this moment Obama occupies a unique position in the eyes of the world," said Stephen J. Weber of WorldPublicOpinion.org, "His communication skills and the change he represents create an open door for him to engage people around the world."

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Margins of error range from 3 percentage points to 4 percentage points.

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