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BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

February 11, 2014

ASIA:

CHINA-TAIWAN TALKS

NANJING, China — China and Taiwan hail a new chapter in their relations and say their ties will advance after they hold their highest-level government talks since they split amid civil war in 1949. By Christopher Bodeen. SENT: 740 words, photos.

KOREAS-TENSION

SEOUL, South Korea — The two Koreas will hold their highest-level talks in years on Wednesday, South Korean officials say, in a possible sign that North Korea wants a quick improvement in ties and the resumption of lucrative cooperative projects. Officials said Tuesday the meeting was requested by North Korea, which has launched a recent charm offensive after raising tensions last spring with repeated threats of nuclear strikes against Seoul and Washington. By Hyung-jin Kim. SENT: 460 words, photos.

SKOREA-JAPAN-SEX SLAVES

TOECHON, South Korea — A single picture captures the regret, shame and rage that Kim Gun-ja has harbored through most of her 89 years. Dressed in a long white wedding gown, she carries a bouquet of red flowers and stares at the camera, her deep wrinkles obscured by makeup and a diaphanous veil. A local company arranged wedding-style photo shoots as gifts for Kim and other elderly women at the House of Sharing, a museum and nursing home for South Koreans forced into brothels by Japan during World War II. Kim and many of the other women never married, giving the pictures a measure of bitterness. By Foster Klug. SENT: 1,150 words, photos.

NEPAL-POLITICS

KATMANDU, Nepal — Nepal’s newly elected prime minister is sworn into office, but his party’s main coalition partner announces it will not join the government, bringing renewed political uncertainty to the nation. Sushil Koirala, the leader of Nepal’s largest and oldest political party, Nepali Congress, is sworn in by the president. By Binaj Gurubacharya. SENT: 310 words, photos.

CHINA-PROSTITUTION

BEIJING — A state TV expose on prostitution in China’s “sex capital” and an ensuing, much-publicized police crackdown has drawn criticism from the public, who expressed sympathy for the sex workers and suggested that authorities target other kinds of wrongdoing. Coverage of the weekend raid by 6,500 officers in the southern city of Dongguan — filled with images of handcuffed women with their heads bowed — spurred many people to post comments online that were more critical of the China Central Television broadcaster’s reporting and the crackdown than the prostitution it uncovered. By Louise Watt. SENT: 560 words, photos.

AFGHANISTAN-POLIO

KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghan officials have launched a polio vaccination campaign after a young girl from Kabul was diagnosed with the disease — the capital’s first case since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria are the only countries in the world where polio remains endemic. But cases have declined significantly in Afghanistan in recent years. SENT: 130 words.

DIPLOMATIC DRAWDOWN

WASHINGTON — Uncertainty over how many U.S. troops might remain in Afghanistan beyond this year has trickled down to American diplomats and aid workers, whose efforts to develop the still mostly primitive country face a drawdown of their own because of security fears. In boosting security forces, educating young girls, launching mobile phone technology and providing other aid, the U.S. has allocated nearly $100 billion since 2002 to build Afghanistan after generations of war and isolation. By Lara Jakes. SENT: 1,050 words, photos.

JAPAN-US-OKINAWA

NAHA, Japan — Several hundred people rally against a plan to relocate a U.S. military base to another site on Okinawa ahead of U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy’s visit to the southern Japanese island. Kennedy is to arrive later in Okinawa, home to more than half the 47,000 American troops and their families based in Japan under a bilateral defense pact. By Koji Ueda. SENT: 430 words.

CAMBODIA-PROTESTERS

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — A Cambodian appeals court refuses to release on bail 21 people arrested early last month in connection with anti-government protests. The detainees are garment workers and rights activists arrested during protests focusing on demands for a higher minimum wage for factory workers. They were charged with causing violence and damage to property. At least four people were shot dead by police during the protests. SENT: 270 words.

AUSTRALIA-INDONESIA-DRUG CONVICT

CANBERRA, Australia — An Australian drug trafficker newly freed from an Indonesian prison faces an uphill battle under Australian law to keep any earnings from a reported multimillion-dollar interview deal. Schapelle Corby walked out of Bali’s Kerobokan prison on Monday with a hat and scarf hiding her face from a waiting media throng. She was whisked away to an expensive Bali resort by Australia’s Seven Network, which media say has offered her as much as 3 million Australian dollars ($2.7 million) for an exclusive interview. By Rod McGuirk. SENT: 730 words, photos.

CHINA-SPAIN-TIBET

BEIJING — Beijing criticizes a Spanish court for issuing arrest warrants for former Chinese leaders and hints that such a move could hurt bilateral relations. SENT: 130 words.

UNITED STATES-SRI LANKA

WASHINGTON — Two U.S. senators call for an international investigation into allegations of war crimes in Sri Lanka’s civil war and for its government to uphold media freedoms. Sent 130 words.

INDIA REINSTATED

SOCHI, Russia — The IOC lifts the suspension of India’s Olympic committee, allowing Indian athletes to compete under their national flag for the rest of the Sochi Games. The International Olympic Committee’s decision came too late to help Shiva Keshava, who had already finished competing in the luge, but he says some good could come out of the sanction. By Stephen Wilson. SENT: 600 words, photos.

BUSINESS AND FINANCE:

CHINA-ECONOMY

BEIJING — The reaction was slow in coming, but financial markets and corporate bosses have been jolted awake to China’s relentless growth decline and are scrambling to cope with wrenching changes in global business. For the past decade, China poured money into building new factories, highways and apartment blocks. That propelled explosive growth at home and a flood of money to exporters of iron ore and other commodities such as Australia and Peru. By Joe McDonald. SENT: 830 words, photos.

UNITED-STATES-INDIA-TRADE

WASHINGTON — The U.S. has brought a trade complaint against India over a solar energy program it says discriminates against American manufacturers, adding another wrinkle to a bilateral relationship strained by the recent arrest and strip-search of an Indian diplomat. By Matthew Pennington. SENT: 450 words.

UNITED STATES-CHINA-INVESTMENT

WASHINGTON — A U.S. business group is urging China to expedite recently announced economic reforms, saying it will smooth the way for an investment treaty being negotiated between the world’s two largest economies. SENT: 130 words.

SINGAPORE-AIRSHOW-VIETJETAIR

SINGAPORE — Low cost carrier VietJetAir signs a deal to buy more than 90 Airbus jets worth about $9.1 billion at sticker prices. VietJetAir’s A320 deal is the only major purchase announced so far at the Singapore Airshow though other agreements may be announced in coming days. By Satish Cheney. SENT: 270 words.

U.S. AND INTERNATIONAL:

OBIT-SHIRLEY TEMPLE

SAN FRANCISCO — Shirley Temple, the dimpled, curly-haired child star who sang, danced, sobbed and grinned her way into the hearts of Depression-era moviegoers, has died, her publicist says. She was 85. A talented and ultra-adorable entertainer, Temple was America’s top box-office draw from 1935 to 1938, a record no other child star has come near. In 1999, the American Film Institute ranking of the top 50 screen legends ranked Temple at No. 18 among the 25 actresses. She appeared in scores of movies and kept children singing “On the Good Ship Lollipop” for generations. By Martha Mendoza. SENT: 1,830 words, photos.

— SHIRLEY TEMPLE-FILMS — Feature films of Temple. SENT: 180 words.

— SHIRLEY TEMPLE-CRYING ON CUE — For Temple, crying on cue for a scene was form of early method acting. SENT: 150 words.

YELLEN-TESTIMONY

WASHINGTON — Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen can expect global financial markets to scrutinize her first public remarks since taking over the Fed’s leadership this month. Investors this week will try to determine whether Yellen will embrace all the policies of her predecessor, Ben Bernanke. They will also look for any clues that she is worried about the economy or the stock market’s turbulence. Yellen will deliver the Fed’s twice-annual report to Congress. By Economics Writer Martin Crutsinger. SENT: 1,050 words, photo.

UNITED STATES-FRANCE

WASHINGTON — Overshadowed by the intrigue of a European love triangle and a glamorous White House gala, Tuesday’s policy talks between President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande will showcase a revamped relationship that is now a cornerstone of diplomatic efforts in Iran and Syria, as well as the fight against extremism in northern Africa. By White House Correspondent Julie Pace. SENT: 700 words, photos.

DIPLOMATIC DRAWDOWN

WASHINGTON — Uncertainty over how many U.S. troops might remain in Afghanistan beyond this year has trickled down to American diplomats and aid workers, whose efforts over the last decade to develop the still mostly primitive country face a drawdown of their own because of security fears. By National Security Writer Lara Jakes. SENT: 990 words, photos.

SPEEDING OFFICER-TROOPER HARASSED

MIAMI — It made national news when Florida Highway Patrol trooper Donna Jane Watts pulled over a speeding Miami police officer at gunpoint. While her supervisors say she acted properly, it didn’t sit well with much of Florida’s law enforcement community. She soon became the target of phone pranks and threats on law enforcement websites. Watts is suing dozens of police agencies and individual officers for damages and other relief and the U.S. Justice Department has gotten involved. By Curt Anderson. SENT: 500 words, photos.

IRELAND-DRAG QUEEN’S SPEECH

DUBLIN — Ireland’s best-known drag queen has driven a stiletto heel through this nation’s long-running debate on gay rights. Panti Bliss has riled up conservative Catholics and won global admirers in a social media tour de force — an impassioned speech about being gay — that has dominated Irish water-cooler talk. By Shawn Pogatchnik. SENT: 750 words, photos.

SYRIA

BEIRUT — Aid workers are rushing to evacuate even more people from rebel-held areas in the besieged central city of Homs as government and opposition leaders meet again in Geneva for a second day. Peace talks reopened Monday but quickly bogged down amid recriminations about who was responsible for escalating violence that has killed hundreds in the past few days. By Barbara Surk. SENT: 450 words, photos, video.

— SYRIA-PEACE TALKS — U.S., Russian officials may meet Syrian delegates in Geneva on Friday. SENT: 400 words.

MEXICO-KIDNAPPINGS

YAUTEPEC, Mexico — Infuriated by a wave of kidnappings, residents of Yautepec began protesting outside city hall demanding action. The state took over the municipal police and sent in state officers. But in this proving ground in Mexico’s fight against a nationwide surge in kidnapping, people still stay home after dark, watch the streets for strange cars and feel sick with dread whenever a loved one didn’t come home on time. By Michael Weissenstein. SENT: 1,180 words, photos.

GETTING ATTENTION

— PEOPLE-SAMUEL L JACKSON — Los Angeles newscaster apologizes for mixing up Samuel L. Jackson, Laurence Fishburne. SENT: 390 words, photo.

— JULIA ROBERTS-SISTER DEATH — Julia Roberts’ half-sister found dead in LA in what family describes as apparent drug overdose. SENT: 130 words, photo.

— LOUD MUSIC SHOOTING — Defense attorneys plan to call one or two more witnesses in the trial of a Florida man charged with fatally shooting a teen after an argument over loud music. SENT: 600 words.

— KRAFT CHEESE-PRESERVATIVES — Kraft removes artificial preservatives in its most popular cheese product. SENT: 490 words, photo.

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YOUR QUERIES: The editor in charge at the AP Asia-Pacific Desk in Bangkok is David Thurber. Questions and story requests are welcome. The news desk can be reached at (66) 2632-6911 or by email at asia@ap.org.

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