January 30 was set as the date for Iraq's first democratic election despite the ongoing terrorism in Sunni triangle cities and the threat by the Sunni minority to boycott the vote. Meanwhile, the so-called Paris club of 19 creditor nations agreed over the weekend to forgive 80 percent of Iraq's debt to them, or $33 billion. The US had lobbied for forgiveness of 90 percent, but France, Germany, and Russia offered to cancel only half of what they're owed.
A woman kidnapped in Iraq last month and later thought to have been executed by her captors surfaced unharmed in her native Poland. It was not immediately clear whether Teresa Borcz Khalifa, who is married to an Iraqi, was freed upon payment of a ransom. Neither she nor leaders of the Warsaw government would comment. Her captors had demanded the pullout of Polish troops from Iraq in return for her freedom.
Anticipating the arrival of Secretary of State Powell, the government of Israel said it would consider withdrawing troops from the West Bank in time for the Palestinian presidential election Jan. 9. Powell's visit is at the behest of President Bush, who pledged to try to capitalize on the death of Yasser Arafat to explore new possibilities for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. But against that backdrop, Egypt's foreign minister said a new date must be found for his trip to Israel after last week's mistaken killing of three policemen on the border of the Gaza Strip. Ahmed Aboul Gheit had planned to discuss Israel's hopes that Egypt would help ensure security in Gaza following the proposed pullout of Jewish settlers and military units next year.
Monday's deadline for beginning the suspension of uranium enrichment will be met, the government of Iran promised. But the prospect was overshadowed by remarks at the weekend Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings in which President Bush said he believes that Iran "has got nuclear ambitions" and that "It is very important for [that government] to hear that we are concerned about their desires." Earlier this month, Iran agreed to the suspension with British, French, and German negotiators until a permanent deal can be reached to hold the government to its obligations as a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Above, technicians work in Iran's Isfahan nuclear materials processing facility.
All 53 people aboard a commercial flight were killed as it crashed on takeoff Sunday in northern China. The domestic flight was en route from Baotou to Shanghai.