Italy's parliament has approved funding to extend its military mission in Iraq until June 30th,
despite a videotaped plea from an Italian journalist abducted there February 4th.
Earlier Wednesday, militants released an undated video of the journalist (Il Manifesto correspondent Guiliana Sgrena) pleading for her life and urging Italy to withdraw troops from Iraq.
Meanwhile, the Lebanese national news agency reports that two Lebanese businessman kidnapped in Baghdad on December 29th have been freed.
On the political front, Iraqi leaders are working to reach a deal on a new government by the time certified election results are due to be released later on Thursday.
And U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan told VOA Wednesday that the world body has opened two new offices in Iraq, one each in Basra and Erbil.