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KABUL — The Taliban's former ambassador to Pakistan was released from the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Afghan state TV reported Monday as it showed him meeting with an official in Kabul. Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, who served as the hard-line regime's international spokesman in the early days of the U.S. bombing campaign in 2001, was shown meeting with the head of Afghanistan's peace and reconciliation commission, Sibghatullah Mujaddedi.


BUJUMBURA — Former rebels and past members of government-backed militias will get $100 each for their weapons under a disarmament scheme that began Monday, a government official said.


SHANGHAI — Typhoon Khanun killed at least 14 people when it plowed into China's east coast, leveling thousands of homes and forcing the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people, state media said Monday. The storm on Sunday tore into coastal Taizhou, a city in Zhejiang province about 150 miles south of the commercial hub of Shanghai.


BOGOTA — A father in a wheelchair and his son used two grenades to hijack an airliner Monday, but peacefully surrendered five hours later after allowing the crew and passengers, including one American, to leave the plane, authorities said. The Aires plane, believed to be carrying 20 passengers and five crew, had left the southern city of Florencia when it was commandeered.


PARIS — French President Jacques Chirac was back at work Monday after a weeklong hospital stay, seemingly in good form and going out of his way to show it. The 72-year-old leader had suffered what doctors called a "small vascular accident" that impaired his vision.


BERLIN — Opposition leader Angela Merkel sought Monday to protect her conservative party's shrinking lead in the polls ahead of this weekend's German elections, telling Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in a final debate he had "failed" in running the economy.


PORT-AU-PRINCE — A judge Monday ordered the release of a Haitian and an American journalist who were arrested as they covered a police search of the church of a jailed priest who is a potential presidential candidate.


CASTEL GANDOLFO — King Abdullah II of Jordan paid Pope Benedict XVI a visit on Monday, saying he wanted to foster an honest dialogue between the West and moderate Islam. Abdullah and his wife, Queen Rania, called on the pope at his papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome.


BEIRUT — Under growing pressure, Syria agreed Monday to allow a U.N. investigator to question members of President Bashar Assad's inner circle about the assassination of Lebanon's former premier, an inquiry some believe might shake his regime.


KIGALI — A Rwandan community court charged a Belgian missionary with inciting and planning the 1994 genocide that left more than half a million people dead. Guy Theunis, 60, is the first foreigner to appear before the community courts set up to investigate and try more than 760,000 people suspected in the 100-day slaughter. The massacres were orchestrated by the extremist Hutu government then in power and targeted mostly members of the Tutsi ethnic minority. Moderate Hutus were also among the victims.


ISTANBUL — A man carrying a gun hidden inside a loaf of bread was arrested Monday as he approached a bus that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was boarding, and a prosecutor said the suspect may have intended to shoot the premier.


HARARE — President Robert Mugabe quietly adopted constitutional changes that make it easier for the state to seize private property and prevent opponents from traveling abroad to criticize his 25-year rule, state radio said Monday. The report said Mugabe signed the amendments into law Friday, the same day the International Monetary Fund deferred a decision for six months on whether to expel this southern African nation.