International reaction to President Bush's proposed initiative on granting legal status to foreigners working in the US appeared generally tepid. In Mexico, Foreign Secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez said his government would not be satisfied until all Mexican nationals living illegally in the US were extended full human rights protection under its immigration policy. The government of the Dominican Republic said all Latin American leaders "should be celebrating this proposal." Colombia's foreign ministry said it supports "anything that leads to greater mobility" for foreigners trying to achieve a better life in the US. The Philippines, from which an estimated 200,000 illegal aliens have settled in the US, said any amnesty should apply to all "undocumented" workers, not just those from selected countries.
US forces in Iraq experienced perhaps their most difficult day so far this year, due to a helicopter crash that killed all nine people aboard and a mortar attack on one of their camps in the tense "Sunni triangle." The latter incident killed one American and wounded 33 others plus an Iraqi civilian. It was not immediately clear whether the helicopter was shot down by Muslim resisters.
All remaining Jews in Ethiopia - an estimated 20,000 - will be resettled beginning next week, the Israeli government announced. But the decision ran into an immediate hurdle, with Ethiopian authorities refusing to permit mass airlifts such as those that brought 15,000 Jews to Israel in 1991. Only a few others have made the trip since 1991, and most of those left behind eke out a living as subsistence farmers.
A new wedge was driven between protesters for democracy in Hong Kong and the communist Chinese government, as the latter confirmed it would require "thorough consultations" on any attempt at political reform in the territory. Unpopular Hong Kong leader Tung Chee-hwa suggested as much Wednesday in his annual policy-review address, and his speech prompted a new protest outside the building that houses Hong Kong's legislature. Analysts said the Chinese statement makes it clear that the pro-democracy rallies worry the Beijing government and that all future demonstrations must been seen as a direct challenge to it, not just to Tung's administration.
Rescuers found a survivor 13 days after the earthquake that devastated the city of Bam, Iraq. He was rushed to a hospital, reportedly in grave condition. He was the first person to be found alive since an elderly woman was rescued Jan. 3. The quake is blamed for more than 30,000 deaths.