Iraq's cabinet overwhelmingly OK'd the status-of-forces agreement with the US Sunday and sent it to parliament. The latter is to open debate on the deal as soon as Monday, with approval expected by the end of the month, its deputy speaker said. The deal calls for the complete withdrawal of US forces from Iraq by Dec. 31, 2011.
Fuel tankers and other supply trucks bound for allied forces in Afghanistan were barred from using the vital Khyber Pass until further notice by Pakistan's government. The order came Saturday, less than a week after Islamist militants hijacked a supply convoy, looted its cargo, and took the drivers captive. Key government leaders denied, however, that the order was a pressure tactic to stop US missile strikes on suspected militant camps in Pakistan's tribal areas.
Rebel leader Laurent Nkunda promised the UN Sunday that he'll support its plan to bring peace to eastern Congo. He told visiting special envoy Olusegun Obasanjo, the former president of Nigeria, that he agrees to respect a cease-fire, the formation of a monitoring committee for violations of the truce, and to the opening of corridors for the flow of humanitarian aid to civilian noncombatants. But as the meeting took place, UN peacekeepers reported more heavy fighting between the rebels and government troops.
Four Palestinian militants were killed in an Israeli airstrike Sun-day as they launched mortar shells into the Jewish state from the Gaza Strip. Outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert ordered Israel's security agencies to draw up plans to end the 17-month rule of Gaza by Hamas, saying the increasing pace of hostilities in recent days has "shattered" the June 19 truce brokered by Egypt.
In another weekend of piracy at sea off Somalia, gunmen seized a cargo ship and its 23-man crew and a fishing vessel. They also freed another merchant ship after its Japanese owners paid an unspecified ransom. At least two other hijackings failed as Italian and Russian warships patrolling the Gulf of Aden responded in time to distress calls.
Islamist militiamen have regained control over most of Somalia, President Abdullahi Yusuf conceded Sunday, saying his interim government confronts "daily war" in the only two cities it still holds: Mogadishu, the capital, and Baidoa. He raised the prospect that the government soon could collapse. Yusuf blamed its ineffectiveness, in part, on squabbling between himself and Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein.
Seventeen more democracy activists in Burma (Myanmar) have been handed long prison terms by military courts, reports said over the weekend. Their sentences bring to 70 the number of dissidents ordered to jail in the past week for criticizing the ruling junta. A woman journalist also was sent to prison for two years for reporting on the government's slow response to the devastating cyclone last May.
More than $30 million in interest on Ecuador's government bonds, due Monday, will not be paid, President Rafael Correa said. And if a government-appointed study commission decides that any of the debt is illegitimate, he warned, "we won't pay" at all. The commission is due to report its findings Thursday, and the government has until Dec. 15 to meet a 30-day grace period. Ecuador would be the first nation to default on its debt since the global credit crisis erupted two months ago.
At least 66 people died in a fiery predawn collision between a crowded bus and a truck hauling sugar in rural Burkina Faso, reports said. Burkina Faso is one of the world's poorest countries, and the bus was en route to Ivory Coast, where many of its nationals work.