ECONOMY REBOUNDS, U.S. AND JAPAN SPAR The US and Canada will spearhead a modest recovery in 1994 among the richest industrialized nations, while Germany and Japan will lag behind and unemployment will worsen, according to a major report issued yesterday by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development. Continental Europe was singled out as the biggest trouble spot for the 24 members of OECD, which released its semiannual economic outlook. The economies of 12 OECD members 11 of them in continental Europe shrank in 1993, the report said. In a related trade matter, US Trade Representative Mickey Kantor, in an unusual letter to a Japanese newspaper, accused Japanese government bureaucrats of blocking trade and economic reforms to protect their own power. Bureaucrats play an unusually prominent role in Japan, and most retained their jobs when Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa's reform-oriented coalition took power in August. Separately, trade official Jeffrey Garten said Washington has high hopes for the Feb. 11 summit between President Clinton and Mr. Hosokawa but added that working-level trade talks haven't progressed far. S. Africa transition

South Africa's government and the ANC sat down with right-wing whites and conservative blacks opposed to the transition to democracy package. The two sides are expected to announce a deal on accommodation today or tomorrow. Vatican-Israeli ties

The Vatican said it would sign a historic deal with Israel by the end of this year, expected to lead to the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Vatican and the Jewish state. Dec. 30 is the expected signing date. Meanwhile, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators returned from weekend talks in Oslo. Both sides said not enough progress has been made to set up a summit between the sides. Russian constitution

Russia's first post-Soviet constitution was approved by voters in the Dec. 12 poll, according to official results yesterday, and goes into effect today. China-Taiwan talks

Historic talks between Taiwan and China on repatriating Chinese hijackers remained deadlocked yesterday because of disputes over sovereignty and jurisdiction, officials said. The talks center on the repatriation of hijackers and illegal immigrants to China and on fishing disputes. Nine Chinese jetliners have been hijacked to Taiwan since April. African leaders urge action

Southern African leaders yesterday called for firm action against white extremists in South Africa and hastened progress toward peace and democracy in Angola and Mozambique. The seven-nation bloc known as the front-line states praised South African democratic reforms but worried about escalating violence. Officials said stalled Angolan peace talks were to be the summit's main focus. France may pull troops

France warned yesterday that it might withdraw its 6,000 peacekeepers, the largest contingent in Bosnia, if a Bosnian peace accord is not signed soon. Meanwhile, a Belgian UN soldier was killed by sniper fire in central Bosnia. He was the 66th UN soldier killed since the mission began in spring 1992. His death came as leaders of Bosnia's government and Serb and Croat factions, as well as the leaders of Serbia and Croatia, prepared for another effort to negotiate an end to 20 months of war in Bosnia. They gather today in Geneva and then go to an EU meeting in Brussels tomorrow. Saint-Exupery's plane

Hoping they have solved a 49-year-old mystery, researchers said yesterday that debris found in the Mediterranean may be from the World War II plane that crashed with author Antoine de Saint-Exupery in the cockpit. Saint-Exupery, whose fable ``The Little Prince'' has enchanted readers worldwide, disappeared during a 1944 photographic mission over southern France.

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