WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Churches dot the heavily Christian, tiny island of Tonga everywhere and choirs can be heard singing on any day of the week. So many in the Pacific nation of 106,000 are overjoyed that the Catholic Church is making a Tongan a cardinal for the first time even though a majority of islanders are Protestant. The island's king, a Wesleyan Methodist, is hoping to attend the ceremony Saturday at the Vatican and later has a private meeting scheduled with the pope. By Nick Perry and Nicole Winfield. SENT: 820 words, photos.


YANGON, Myanmar — Clashes between Myanmar troops and ethnic Kokang rebels near the Chinese border have left 47 government soldiers dead and 73 wounded, state media say. By Aye Aye Win. SENT: 300 words.


BEIJING — China boosted its installed wind energy capacity last year to a record 19.81 million kilowatts as the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitter tries to switch its power grid to cleaner energy sources. SENT: 180 words.


KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, a revered Islamic spiritual leader who helped bolster unity in Malaysia's opposition bloc and a key advocate of Islamic law, died at age 84. By Eileen Ng. SENT: 550 words, photos.


SYDNEY — Nearly 200 pilot whales strand themselves on New Zealand's South Island, with hordes of rescuers rushing to the remote area in a bid to guide them back to sea. SENT: 210 words.


BEIJING — The son of actor Jackie Chan is released from a Beijing jail after completing a six-month sentence for allowing people to use marijuana in his apartment, amid a crackdown on illegal narcotics in the Chinese capital. SENT: 270 words, photos.


MANILA, Philippines — Around 4,000 mostly female students from a Roman Catholic school in Manila stomp their feet and raise their hands as they dance to call for an end to violence against women and girls. SENT: 200 words, photos.


BEIJING — China's first female astronaut has begun training for her next mission after giving birth to her first child, state media report. SENT: 230 words.


NEW DELHI — At least four passengers are killed and dozens injured as several coaches of a train derail in southern India. SENT: 130 words.



CAIRO — Canadian Al-Jazeera journalist Mohamed Fahmy is released from an Egyptian jail after spending more than a year in prison on terror-related charges in a case that was denounced as a sham by rights groups and the international community. He was let out pending a retrial. By Sarah El Deeb. SENT: 1,000 words, photos, video.


MINSK, Belarus — The peace deal for Ukraine, if it holds, would be a partial win for both Moscow and Kiev: Ukraine retains the separatist eastern regions and regains control of its border with Russia, while Russia holds strong leverage to keep Ukraine from ever becoming part of NATO. But neither side came away from the marathon talks unscathed. By Yuras Karmanau and Jim Heintz. SENT: 1,100 words, photos, video.


VERDIJ, Iran — Iran is breaking bad. Despite executions and police raids, methamphetamine production and abuse are skyrocketing in the country, partly because of Iran's status as the gateway for the region's top drug exporter, Afghanistan — and partly because Iranian dealers are profiting so handsomely from sales to overstressed students and exhausted double-jobbers. By Ali Akbar Dareini. SENT: 670 words, photos.


BRUSSELS — Spurred to action by last month's terror attacks in France, European Union leaders agree on an ambitious range of new steps to better protect their countries from terrorism. By John-Thor Dahlburg. SENT: 800 words, photos.


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

The Asia Photo Desk can be reached at (81-3) 6215-8941 or by fax at (81-3) 3574-8850.

Between 1600 GMT and 0000 GMT, please refer queries to the North America Desk in New York at (1) 212-621-1650.