By a 14-to-0 vote, the UN Security Council approved the lifting of economic sanctions against Iraq and conferred its backing on American-led reconstruction efforts there. Syria's delegate was not present for the vote. Although the measure contains numerous US compromises to satisfy such veto-wielding council members as France and Russia, it still does not give the UN the lead role in Iraq that they wanted. (Stories, pages 1, 7.)
The first reported meeting between new Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leaders focused on his efforts to stop terrorist attacks against Israeli targets. But there was no indication, as the Monitor went to press, that the radical organization had agreed to end its campaign. Israel has demanded that Hamas and other militants be disarmed and their leaders jailed before it will relax its grip on Palestinian areas. Meanwhile, Israeli commandos seized a fishing boat manned by Hizbullah guerrillas carrying weapons and ammunition off the coast of Lebanon. Its destination wasn't immediately clear.
Rescue teams were in a furious search for survivors of the year's most devastating earthquake so far. The magnitude-6.7 quake struck northern Algeria Wednesday night, and hundreds of aftershocks were felt in the hours immediately following. Official reports said at least 707 people were killed and almost 6,000 others were injured, but those numbers were expected to climb. In October 1983, twin earthquakes were centered nearby, killing 2,500 people. (Story,page 7.)
An ultimatum for returning to peace negotiations in Sri Lanka was issued by the Tamil rebel movement. Calling their talks with the government so far "a waste of time," the rebels demanded the status of legitimate interim administration in Tamil-majority areas - a move that analysts said dashes hopes for an early resumption of the talks that were broken off a month ago. The rebels already administer areas under their control. But most donor nations list them as a terrorist organization, which bars them from receiving direct financial aid.
Eighteen people died in a gas explosion, and rescue crews were working to free 23 workers trapped after another underground blast in separate coal mines in southern China, the fifth and sixth major accidents there this month. Both were under investigation, but lax maintenance, disregard for safety rules, and lack of ventilators and other vital equipment result in thousands of mining deaths in China each year.