KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — New radar data from Thailand gives Malaysian investigators more potential clues for how to retrace the course of the missing Malaysian airliner, while a massive multinational search unfolds in an area the size of Australia. Search crews from 26 countries, including Thailand, are looking for the plane that vanished early March 8 with 239 people aboard en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Frustration is growing among relatives of those on the plane at the lack of progress in the search. By Chris Brummitt and Thanyarat Doksone. SENT: 1,000 words, photos, video, audio.

__ MALAYSIA-PLANE-UNITED IN DESPAIR __ KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — The Imam invited the congregation to pray. "Oh Allah, return to us those who are lost. Oh Allah, grant safe passage to MH370," he said in English. The prayer was not unusual. The setting was. Gathered in the courtyard of a shopping mall, the Muslim religious leader was followed by a church leader reading from the Bible, then a Buddhist monk, a Hindu leader and a Taoist priest. The baffling mystery over the disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines jetliner with 239 people on March 8 has united Malaysians, a rainbow nation of various ethnicities, like never before. Tuesday night's inter-faith ceremony would have been inconceivable 11 days ago in this country of 24 million people where religious differences and bigotry have often been on open display. By Eileen Ng. UPCOMING: 800 words, photos by 0900 GMT.

__ MALAYSIA-PLANE-MYSTERY __ WELLINGTON, New Zealand — The plane must be somewhere. But the same can be said for Amelia Earhart's. Ten days after Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared with 239 people aboard, an exhaustive international search has produced no sign of the Boeing 777, raising an unsettling question: What if the airplane is never found? By Nick Perry and Kristen Gelineau. SENT: 840 words, photos.

__ MALAYSIA-PLANE-MEDIA __ The missing Malaysian plane is a made-for-TV mystery where the public's hunger for the story seems inversely proportional to the amount of solid leads for solving the case. By Television Writer David Bauder. SENT: 1,000 words, photo.


BEIJING — Police in China's restive western region of Xinjiang shot dead an armed assailant for attacking an officer, who later died, state media said. The suspect used unspecified weapons to injure a police officer in the city of Urumqi on Monday night, the official China News Service reported. Officers who arrived at the site shot the attacker dead. SENT: 180 words.


HANOI, Vietnam — A Vietnamese court sentences a dissident blogger to 15 months in prison for posting online criticism of the government, the latest case in an intensifying crackdown against dissent in the one-party communist country. SENT: 360 words.


KATMANDU, Nepal — Police detain dozens of people for torching vehicles and forcing shops to close in Nepal's capital during a general strike to protest a hike in fuel prices. SENT: 140 words.


KABUL, Afghanistan — Habiba Sarabi is the most prominent woman running on a ticket in Afghanistan's April 5 election to choose a successor to President Hamid Karzai. Sarabi once served as Afghanistan's first female governor, and her current bid to become the country's first female vice president is part of an effort to get out the women's vote as candidates scramble for every ballot. By Kim Gamel. SENT: 950 words, photos.


TAIPEI, Taiwan — Hundreds of opponents of a far-reaching trade pact with China demonstrate in and around Taiwan's legislature, the most serious challenge to date to President Ma Ying-jeou's signature policy of bringing the democratic island of 23 million people ever closer to Beijing. By Peter Enav. SENT: 270 words. UPCOMING: Update with 500 words.



TOKYO — The Wall Street Journal is reporting the U.S. Justice Department may reach a $1 billion settlement with Toyota Motor Corp., ending a four-year criminal investigation into the Japanese automaker's disclosure of safety problems. Toyota declined comment on the report, which cited unnamed sources who said a settlement still could fall apart. SENT: 280 words, photo.


TOKYO — Japan reported its 20th straight monthly trade deficit in February as soaring energy imports continued to offset the value of exported goods. SENT: 220 words, photos.


WELLINGTON, New Zealand — In another sign of growing economic ties, China on Wednesday allowed its currency to be directly traded with New Zealand's. SENT: 160 words.



The Israeli military says its warplanes have carried out airstrikes against Syrian army targets in response to a roadside bomb that hit an Israeli patrol and wounded four soldiers on Tuesday. The strikes are Israel's fiercest against Syria since the neighboring country's civil war began three years ago. Developing story. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: Update with more details.


VILNIUS, Lithuania — After moving to annex Crimea, Russian President Vladimir Putin insists he has no intention of invading other regions in Ukraine, much less other nations. But leaders in Russia's backyard aren't so sure, and they're looking to Vice President Joe Biden for assurances that the U.S. has a plan to prevent that from happening. By Josh Lederman. SENT: 680 words, photos, video. UPCOMING: 1,000 words by 1300 GMT to update with Biden remarks, photos, video.

— CANADA-CLINTON-UKRAINE — Hillary Rodham Clinton says other countries will face Russian aggression if Putin gets away with illegal act. SENT: 390 words.


WASHINGTON — Investors will be watching closely Wednesday for any hints of how a Janet Yellen-led Federal Reserve might differ from the path set by her predecessor, Ben Bernanke. The Yellen era will begin in earnest when the Fed ends two days of policy discussions. It will be her first meeting as Fed chair, a position she assumed Feb. 3, after Bernanke stepped down after eight high-profile years. By Economics Writer Martin Crutsinger. SENT: 700 words, photo.


LONDON — There's London. And then there's the rest of Britain. A tale of two Britains has increasingly emerged since the Great Recession. While the government trumpets the country's recovery from the financial crisis and its status as the world's fastest-growing developed economy, the rhetoric hides an increasing divide: One that pits London's boom against the malaise in cities such as Manchester and Birmingham that are struggling to remain vibrant in the 21st century. Britain's economy is, by some calculations, the most dependent on a single urban area among the world's most industrialized nations. By Danica Kirka. SENT: 1,500 words, photos.


CARACAS, Venezuela — The two students venture into one of Latin America's biggest slums for the first time, feeling scared and somewhat awkward. Their mission: to broaden support for their anti-government protest movement in the low-income barrios whose working poor the late President Hugo Chavez championed. By Frank Bajak. SENT: 1,100 words, photos.


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

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