Agreeing to end their sharp differences, President Bush and German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder pledged to work together to build a peaceful, stable, and democratic Iraq at their first formal talks in more than a year. Schröder said Germany "would like to come in and help with the resources that we do have," but didn't offer to contribute peacekeeping troops. Bush is seeking such troops as well as financial aid for postwar Iraq during a string of meetings with foreign leaders in New York, after his UN speech Tuesday, which won a decidedly chilly reception.

A US airman stands accused of trying to pass classified information to Syria on detainees at the US Naval facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, military officials said Tuesday. Senior Airman Ahmad al-Halabi, who worked as an Arab-language translator at the camp, faces 32 counts, among them espionage and aiding the enemy. The US military also is reviewing base security and looking into possible links between al-Halabi and a US Army Islamic chaplain arrested earlier this month over his work with Guantanamo detainees, although one official stressed that there's no initial evidence that the cases are connected.

In the latest twist to California's Oct. 7 gubernatorial recall election, US Rep. Darrell Issa, who bankrolled a costly petition drive for the effort - but decided not to run himself - was vowing to advise voters to keep Gov. Gray Davis (D) unless one of the two GOP frontrunners drops out. Issa is among Republicans who worry that dividing support between actor Arnold Schwarzenegger and state Sen. Tom McClintock will hand victory to Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante (D). All three, along with political columnist Arianna Huffington and Green Party candidate Peter Camejo, were taking part in a televised debate Wednesday night at California State University, Sacramento. It's the first and only one to feature Schwarzenegger.

Meanwhile, a precedent-setting law to ban unwanted email ads, or spam, was signed by Davis Tuesday. The measure provides for fines of up to $1 million per incident for unsolicited commercial email sent or received by computer users in the state, and targets both companies that package and send bulk email and those whose products are being touted. In a statement, Davis said the law sends a clear message to spammers that California "will not allow you to litter the information superhighway with email trash."

The Texas state Senate was expected to give final approval to a controversial redistricting bill, after the measure passed late Tuesday in a preliminary vote of 18-13 along party lines. Democrats contend that the Republican-backed plan - seen as likely to increase the GOP majority in the US Congress - discriminates against minority voters. They recently returned for a third special session in Austin after fleeing to Albuquerque, N.M., for 45 days to block action on the measure. The Texas House already has approved a separate version.

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