l Al-Jazeera broadcast a tape said to be a recording by Osama bin Laden in which he warned of new terrorist attacks in preparation against the United States but also offered a truce in Afghanistan and Iraq if US and other foreign forces withdrew. A CIA aerial attack on a Pakistan village close to the Afghanistan border killed 17 people including women and children but Osama bin Laden's second-in-command, believed to have been the target, was not among them. The Pakistan government made a formal protest to the United States about the raid but added that it would not affect the close relations between the two countries. l Iran announced that it would resume uranium-enrichment at its Natanz plant. The United States, Russia and European powers called for an emergency meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency in order to consider reporting Iran to the UN Security Council. In Washington there were calls for the option of use of military force against Iran to be retained.
l The long-delayed results of the Iraq parliamentary election were released, showing that a strong Shia majority would still need support from another group to form a government. Negotiations to establish the hoped-for government of national unity were expected to last for weeks, if not months. Meanwhile, Rizgar Amin, the presiding judge in the trial of Saddam Hussein resigned after complaining of political and media pressure alleging that he was being too lenient to the accused.
l Airbus and Boeing both set annual records for new aircraft orders in 2005 with the European consortium moving ahead of its American competitor in December and thus confirming a trend in orders since 2001 and in deliveries since 2003. Although demand for new aircraft remained weak in the United States it had been strong in India, China and the Middle East.
l In British politics the Secretary of Education, Ruth Kelly, promised the House of Commons a zero-tolerance policy towards teachers convicted or suspected of inappropriate behaviour towards children, following allegations that many such teachers had secured employment. Ms Kelly was thought to have saved her job by her handling of the issue but the Government's new Education Bill is likely to test her further since many Labour backbenchers are opposed to some of its provisions.
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