El-Baradei calls for dialogue on nuclear weapons programme

19 December 2003
The director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohammed el-Baradei, says that he does not envisage an imminent end to Israel's nuclear weapons programme, despite calls from the IAEA for a nuclear-free zone in the region.

Syrian President Asad calls for talks with the US aimed at healing the diplomatic rift between the two countries, a day after President Bush signs the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Restoration Act threatening sanctions.

The former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein is detained by US forces after an operation involving some 600 soldiers at two remote targets near Tikrit.

Senior Israeli and Palestinian officials agree to meet after two days of negotiations between the two sides and US State Department officials.

Two car bombings kill at least nine people in Iraq, a day after the arrest of Saddam Hussein. In a separate incident, US soldiers kill at least 11 militants during an ambush on a military convoy in the town of Samarra.

Officials in Algiers announce that national security forces have killed three Islamist militants and arrested five others during a gun battle in western Algeria.

US President Bush says that former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein should face the death penalty for crimes committed during his rule.

An explosion in Baghdad kills at least 10 Iraqis and injures 15 others in the western Bayya district of the city.

The Israeli government earmarks an additional NIS 700 million ($160 million) in 2004 for the controversial 'security fence' around the West Bank.

The US State Department says it will allow all non-essential diplomatic staff stationed in Saudi Arabia to return to the US, in response to unspecified terrorist threats.

Israeli Defence Force (IDF) soldiers kill at least four suspected Palestinian militants during an incursion into the West Bank city of Nablus.

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