axis of trade: Iran is set to join the World Trade Organisation (WTO), after the recent decision by the US to end a diplomatic block that had prevented its entry into the international body since 1996. The USapproval was aimed at stimulating talks held in Geneva between Iran and the EU on the former's nuclear energy programme. US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice described the move as an intensification of the country's relations with the EU. US trade sanctions on Iran, in place since 1979, will remain in force. However, Iran may still be a long way from WTO membership, as accession negotiations could take several years.
cholera grip: Cholera is spreading fast in Baghdad's al-Amil region. Media reports quoted Iraq government officials blaming insurgent attacks on the region's infrastructure for the outbreak. Frequent incidents of violence prevent smooth functioning of services, like transportation of water purification products, a transport operator said. Poverty, high population density and water contamination have further worsened the fear of the epidemic spreading. The worst affected are the children. Residents of the region have called upon the government to urgently get water pipelines and sewer systems repaired and ensure their maintenance.
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