UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan called on world leaders Wednesday to fulfill their promises of $2.3 billion in tsunami relief aid without taking away resources from other crises. Aid organizations in Africa are already feeling the effects of pressing Asian needs, which are demanding donors' immediate attention and funds. In tribute to tsunami victims, many across Europe observed three minutes of silence at noon on Wednesday.
Gunmen killed a senior official of Iraq's main Sunni Muslim party, the Iraqi Islamic Party, which last month withdrew from the Jan. 30 election race it wants postponed. Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi dismissed on Wednesday the assassination of clerics and attacks on churches as a campaign by religious extremists to sow civil discord, vowing they would fail.
Iran has agreed to give UN inspectors access to a suspected nuclear weapons site, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency said Wednesday. But IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei downplayed the threat posed by Iran, saying that North Korea, not Iran, is "the No. 1 security threat." North Korea, which severed ties with the IAEA in Dec. 2002, is believed to have enough plutonium to make six to eight nuclear bombs.
Sudanese troops were ordered to withdraw immediately from areas they seized from rebels in Darfur, the joint commission monitoring a cease-fire in the region said Wednesday. The recent hostilities undermined the Dec. 11-12 talks on a political solution to the conflict that has killed about 70,000 since March, according to aid agencies' estimates. The commission also pressed the Sudanese government again to quickly disarm the Janjaweed, which some believe have received help from the Sudanese government.
Over 50 journalists were killed while doing their job or for expressing their opinion in 2004, making it the profession's deadliest year in a decade, media watchdog Reporters Without Borders said on Wednesday. Iraq was the world's most dangerous country, while East Asian countries displayed the least press freedom, jeopardizing the lives of reporters who exposed corruption and reported on organized crime.