The United Nations says asylum requests in industrialized countries fell nearly a fifth in the first half of 2005 from the same period last year, although there was an increase from citizens of Haiti and Iraq.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees says the number of asylum seekers arriving in 36 nations dropped to 156,200.

A spokesman for the agency attributes the decline to a drop in applications from Afghan citizens, as well as tighter asylum rules in industrialized nations.

The UN agency says France received the most asylum requests with more than 27,000 applications, down slightly from the first six months of last year. The United States was next with 25,400 requests.

Serbia and Montenegro was the top country of origin with 10,800 applications, followed by China and Russia. 

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP, Reuters.