The following news stories about the Asia-Pacific region are being pursued by The Associated Press. Please see the Asian News Digest at 0700 GMT and the Asian News Digest Update at 1200 GMT.
ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE — En route for a historic visit to long-shunned Myanmar, President Barack Obama says he comes to "extend the hand of friendship" to a nation moving from persecution to peace. But the praise and personal attention come with an admonition from Obama: The work of democracy has just begun. Moved. By Julie Pace. AP Photos.
WITH: MYANMAR-PHOTO GALLERY
YANGON, Myanmar — President Barack Obama will be treading on ground heavy with political and historical significance when he speaks at the University of Yangon. The campus was a launching point for pro-democracy protests that were eventually crushed by Myanmar's former junta. Today, few students walk the broken pathways of what was once one of Asia's finest universities. For many, the school has become a symbol of the country's ruined education system, a monument to nearly 50 years of misrule. Upcoming. By Erika Kinetz. AP Photos.
YANGON, Myanmar — Myanmar's leader has ordered a new prisoner amnesty ahead of a historic visit to the country by President Barack Obama. State television says President Thein Sein had ordered 66 detainees released, but it was not clear whether any political prisoners would be among them. Moved. By Aye Aye Win.
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — President Barack Obama arrives in Cambodia having just won four more years in office, but that is nothing compared to his host, Hun Sen. The 60-year-old Cambodian prime minister has held power since 1985 — when Ronald Reagan was in the White House — and has said he's not thinking of stepping down until he is 90. Hun Sen is known as one of Asia's most Machiavellian politicians, with a knack for making sure his rivals end up in jail or in exile. Yet, through his country's civil wars, a U.N. peace process and several elections, the one-time communist cadre has always managed to come out on top. Upcoming. By Grant Peck.
SOUTHEAST ASIA SUMMIT
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Southeast Asian leaders have decided to ask China to start formal talks "as soon as possible" on crafting a legally binding accord aimed at preventing violence over disputed South China Sea territories. Moved. By Jim Gomez. AP Photos.
ALMATY, Kazakhstan — Three astronauts have touched down in the dark, chilly expanses of central Kazakhstan onboard a Soyuz capsule after a 125-day stay at the International Space Station. Moved.
BEIJING — Police in China have arrested 73 people suspected of manufacturing and selling almost 1 million fake luxury bags. The Ministry of Public Security says police seized more than 20,000 fake Louis Vuitton, Hermes and Coach bags and closed 37 sites where the forgery ring made or sold the bags. Moved.
BUSINESS AND FINANCE:
BEIJING — China's economy is recovering but the days of double-digit growth are gone. Faced with falling returns from a three-decade-old growth model fueled by exports and investment, Beijing is trying to rebalance the economy by promoting consumer spending, service industries and technology. It is a strategy that promises smaller but more sustainable gains. By 0800 GMT. By Joe McDonald.
BANGKOK — Asian stock markets rise, registering optimism after negotiations late last week between President Barack Obama and leaders of Congress raised hopes the U.S. would avoid its "fiscal cliff" before the end-of-the-year deadline. Moved. By Pamela Sampson.
WITH: OIL PRICES
YOUR QUERIES: The Associated Press editor in charge at the AP Asia-Pacific Desk in Bangkok is Chris Blake. Questions and story requests are welcome. The news desk can be reached at (66) 2632-6911 or by email at asia(at)ap.org.
The Asia Photo Desk can be reached at (81-3) 6215-8941 or by fax at (81-3) 3574-8850.
Between 1700 GMT and 0000 GMT, please refer queries to the North America Desk in New York at (1) 212-621-1650.