World

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki traveled to neighboring Syria Monday, insisting that he'd press his hosts to give up their perceived support for Islamist radicals who cross the border on terrorist missions. The visit was a follow-up to an international conference on security earlier this month in Damascus, at which Syria agreed to help stop the flow of men and weapons into Iraq. But Maliki's government says Syria has been slow to act. Earlier, Maliki won a similar pledge while in Iran, and the latter's foreign ministry said Monday that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would repay that visit soon.

A kidnapped aid-agency employee was being sheltered in Germany's embassy in Afghanistan Mon-day after police freed her. Her abduction by members of a criminal gang was the first involving a Westerner in Kabul, the capital, in more than two years. Christina Meier had appeared in a video broadcast on TV less than a day earlier, saying her captors proposed to trade her release for prisoners held by the government.

Members of Turkey's parliament gave Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul 341 votes for president. But he still fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to win. Not until next Tuesday, when a third round of voting is scheduled, is he expected to defeat two rivals, since at that point he'll need only a simple majority. The first vote, in April, was ruled invalid because a quorum wasn't present. Opposition legislators object to Gul's candidacy because of his Islamist past.

Rescue operations ended in southern Peru Monday, and emergency crews shifted their efforts to recovering further casualties from last week's powerful earthquake. President Alan Garcia said marines (some of them, above) had restored order to the hard-hit port city of Pisco, following the looting of aid shipments by hungry residents, and that his government already was developing rebuilding plans. Pisco lost 85 percent of its dwellings in the magnitude-8.0 quake.

Defense attorneys won a lengthy delay in the war-crimes trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor. Prosecutors did not object when the UN tribunal at The Hague granted his lawyers an adjournment until Jan. 7 to prepare, saying that was reasonable, "given the complexity of the case." Taylor, who fired his original, court-appointed lawyer, is charged with arming and otherwise supporting rebels in neighboring Sierra Leone's civil war. The rebels were responsible for killing or mutilating thousands of noncombatants in the 10-year conflict.

New questions arose about why 181 men trapped in a flooded coal mine in eastern China were still underground after other other pits in the vicinity had suspended operations last week because the water level was rising too fast. Emergency crews were pumping out the mine as fast as possible Monday, but there was no word on the fate of the trapped men. Angry relatives demanded three updates a day.

All 165 passengers and crew members evacuated a China Airlines jet without injury Monday, some of them only moments before it erupted in flames at an arrival gate on Okinawa.Firefighters were unable to keep the plane (above), from breaking in two. Before the fire, the Taiwanese carrier had improved on a troubled safety record. More than 650 people died in accidents involving its planes between the early 1990s and 2002.

Coup leader and self-appointed Prime Minister Frank Bainima-rama appeared to be "joking" when he announced last week that Fiji's long-awaited national election would be held in mid-March 2009, the Fiji Times said Monday. Citing other published reports, it said Bainimarama told journalists he'd scheduled the vote for that date because he was tired of being asked about the subject. Critics called the Times report "unfortunate," if true.

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