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By Compiled from wire service reports by Robert Kilborn and Kristen Broman-Worthington / April 23, 2003



The US picked up a major ally in its bid for the lifting of UN economic sanctions against Iraq. China said it favored the early ending of sanctions so that Iraqi oil could be sold to help improve the "difficult situation the people ... are facing." But the Chinese statement also said "the relevant questions should be appropriately resolved within the UN framework," where fellow Security Council members France and Russia have opposed ending the sanctions unless the UN assumes the central role in rebuilding the war-torn country. Meanwhile, in a pilgrimage banned during Saddam Hussein's regime, hundreds of thousands of Shiites converged on their holy city, Karbala, left.

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Angry yelling could be heard inside Yasser Arafat's headquarters as the Palestinian Authority leader consulted with senior advisers over what to do about the power struggle with Prime Minister-designate Mahmoud Abbas. A source close to Arafat said he saw little hope of a compromise and that he expected Abbas to resign Wednesday. He said Arafat was considering replacing Abbas with the Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Ahmed Qureia. At issue is Abbas's choice for interior minister, although analysts said the squabble suggests Arafat is unwilling to relinquish any of his power.

No early breakthrough was expected in the confrontation over nuclear weapons between North Korea and the US as their representatives prepared to meet Wednesday in Beijing for Chinese-sponsored discussions. Analysts noted that North Korea's negotiator is too junior in rank to agree to any deal. Still, China's Foreign Ministry said it hoped for at least an easing of tensions, although an official North Korean newspaper Tuesday accused the US of being "frantic ... to isolate and stifle" the communist regime in Pyongyang.

Between them, China and Hong Kong reported 10 more deaths from the SARS virus, and the Beijing government warned that the healthcare system in rural areas is inadequate to deal with the spread of the illness, should that occur. But despite the rising casualties, authorities decided to restore five days of the annual celebration of May Day, although they urged people not to travel to their home provinces.

An immediate increase in security across Sri Lanka was ordered by President Chandrika Kumaratunga after Tamil Tiger rebels broke off peace negotiations with her government late Monday. The rebels accused the government of failing to live up to the terms of the truce agreed to in February. They did not, however, indicate that they would resume hostilities.

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