ST. JOHN'S — Longtime opposition leader Baldwin Spencer was sworn in as prime minister Wednesday after a decisive victory in elections that ended the half-century dominance of a political family dynasty in Antigua and Barbuda. Spencer, a 55-year-old labor activist, took the oath of office at the governor general's residence before hundreds of supporters and politicians. He said the government would get to work right away.


MANAMA — More than 200 young demonstrators pelted the high walls surrounding the U.S. Embassy compound in Bahrain with stones Wednesday, shouting "Death to America and Israel," then scattering when riot police came at them with batons and tear gas.


PARIS — A French railroad worker found an explosive device buried in the bed of a passenger line between France and Switzerland on Wednesday, the Interior Ministry said. Bomb disposal experts neutralized the device, which was half-buried under a track in the village of Montieramey, on a train line heading from Paris to Basel, Switzerland, about 105 miles southeast of Paris the ministry said in a statement.

WASHINGTON — President Bush will meet with French President Jacques Chirac while in France to participate in ceremonies marking the 60th anniversary of the allies' World War II Normandy landing, the White House said Wednesday. In a sign that relations between the two countries are improving, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Bush is to meet with Chirac in Paris on June 5 and will go to Normandy the next day for events commemorating the anniversary of the D-Day invasion.


PORT-AU-PRINCE — Haiti's new government held its first Cabinet meeting Wednesday as leaders began tackling the multitude of troubles afflicting the impoverished country, first among them the large number of guns on the streets. The meeting in the National Palace was held as the last contingent of 450 Canadian soldiers prepared to join patrols in the still-volatile capital.


ROME — Italian publishing giant Mondadori announced Wednesday it is negotiating worldwide rights for Pope John Paul II's new book, a recollection of his years as bishop in Poland. The book will come out in Italy on his 84th birthday May 18 — a decade after the publication of John Paul's heavily autobiographical "Crossing the Threshold of Hope," which Mondadori said sold 20 million copies around the world.


ROTTERDAM — A former Congolese officer known as the "King of Beasts" went on trial in the Netherlands Wednesday on allegations he was a member of an execution squad and earned his nickname by routinely raping and torturing prisoners. Sebastian Nzapali is the first person to be tried by Dutch authorities under a new law enabling the prosecution of atrocities committed abroad if the suspect resides in the Netherlands. It is considered a test case in the Netherlands, where several other suspects are under investigation.

North Korea

SEOUL, South Korea — Reclusive North Korean leader Kim Jong Il held a rare meeting Wednesday with China's foreign minister as the communist allies discussed the region's nuclear dispute. Beijing said the session was a "very important contact." Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, who arrived Tuesday, is the first foreign minister from Beijing to visit the North in five years. The visit is seen as bolstering the push for a third round of six-nation talks on the North's nuclear programs as efforts to organize working level groups hang in limbo.


TAIPEI — Taiwan's political turmoil showed few signs of letting up Wednesday as the island's two biggest political parties squabbled about how to do a speedy vote recount for last weekend's disputed presidential election. Hundreds of people blocked the boulevard in front of the Presidential Office for a fourth straight day, protesting President Chen Shui-bian's narrow win in Saturday's presidential race. Chen's margin of victory was only 0.2 percent.

United Arab Emirates

DUBAI — The U.S. Embassy in the Emirates closed Wednesday after receiving a threat, and anti-American protests across the Mideast led authorities to bolster security at U.S. interests in the region. In the Saudi capital, Riyadh, the U.S. Embassy briefly shut its doors to the public Wednesday on rumors of an explosion that turned out to be false.