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2 Italians missing in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan — Two Italian military personnel were believed to have been kidnapped in western Afghanistan, and police Sunday said they were searching for the pair and their two Afghan staff.

At a meeting at the United Nations, Afghan President Hamid Karzai told participants he had information about where the Italians were and would pass the information to Italian authorities, said U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.

The two missing Italians, with their Afghan driver and translator, drove through a police checkpoint in the Shindand district of Herat province on Saturday, and they have not had any contact with anyone since, said Gen. Ali Khan Hassanzada, chief of police criminal investigations in western Afghanistan.

Photo shows Castro with Angolan leader

HAVANA — Cuba published a photo Sunday of a standing, smiling Fidel Castro looking heavier but still gaunt as he met with Angola’s president, the first head of state to see the ailing 81-year-old since June.

The Cuban leader appears to have gained weight and wears a warm half-smile as he shakes hands with Angolan President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, who was in Cuba since Thursday on an official visit.

Government: Israeli arrested not a spy

JERUSALEM — Israel denied Sunday that one of its citizens arrested in Lebanon was a spy. The man’s family said he converted to Islam years ago and was fascinated with the Arab world, particularly Lebanon — an enemy country where Israelis have been kidnapped in the past.

Lebanese security officials said Daniel Sharon, 32, was arrested Thursday in a Beirut hotel and handed over to military police for interrogation on suspicion of espionage.

The Lebanese said Sharon had aroused suspicion because he visited Lebanon frequently — 11 times in the past two years — using his German passport. He also spoke Arabic fluently.

Moderate wins vote in Japan ruling party

TOKYO — The veteran moderate Yasuo Fukuda easily won election as Japan’s ruling party president Sunday, pledging to keep a pro-U.S. foreign policy and improve ties with Asia after he almost certainly becomes prime minister later this week.

Fukuda, the 71-year-old son of a prime minister from the 1970s and a former right-hand man to two premiers, won 63 percent of the vote among Liberal
Democratic Party lawmakers and delegates, beating his lone rival, former Foreign Minister Taro Aso.

Iranian president heads to New York

TEHRAN, Iran — President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Sunday that the American people are eager to hear different opinions about the world, and he is looking forward to having the chance to voice them during his trip to the U.S., state media reported.

The hardline Iranian leader left Sunday for New York to address the U.N. General Assembly and speak to students and teachers during a forum at Columbia University.

The visit has caused a stir in New York. Tensions are high between Washington and Tehran over U.S. accusations that Iran is secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons and helping Shiite militias in Iraq that target U.S. troops — claims Iran denies.

Ahmadinejad said the American people have been denied “correct information,” and his visit will give them a chance to hear a different voice, the official IRNA news agency reported.

Compiled From Wire Reports

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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