BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

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Associated Press

Posted on November 19, 2012 at 12:00 PM

TOP STORIES:

OBAMA

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia —Making history twice within hours, President Barack Obama becomes the first U.S. president to set foot in Cambodia, a country once known for its Khmer Rouge "killing fields." He left behind flag-waving crowds on the streets of Myanmar, the once internationally shunned nation now showing democratic promise. Unlike the visit to Myanmar, where Obama seemed to revel in that nation's new hope, the White House has made clear that Obama is only in Cambodia to attend an East Asia Summit and said the visit should not be seen as an endorsement of Prime Minister Hun Sen and the government he has led since the 1980s. Moved. By Jim Kuhnhenn and Julie Pace. AP Photos.

CAMBODIA-STRONGMAN

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 Ronald Reagan was in the White House, and says he's not 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. Moved. By Grant Peck. AP Photos.

WITH: SOUTHEAST ASIA SUMMIT

MYANMAR-PRISONER AMNESTY

YANGON, Myanmar — Myanmar sets free dozens of political prisoners in an amnesty that coincides with the historic visit of President Barack Obama. At least 44 political prisoners, including several prominent human rights activists, are among 66 detainees released. Moved.

WITH: MYANMAR-WHAT'S IN A NAME?, OBAMA-STOPPING TRAFFIC, MYANMAR-PHOTO GALLERY

CHINA-POLITICS

BEIJING — China's new leader Xi Jinping is highlighting corruption as a scourge that could bring down the Communist Party, though he has yet to offer any specific new proposals to stop it. Xi tells the new 25-member Politburo that the party must be vigilant against graft, noting that corruption in other countries in recent years has prompted major social unrest and the collapse of governments. Moved. By Gillian Wong. AP Photos.

CHINA-TIBET

BEIJING — An overseas rights group says another Tibetan has died after setting himself on fire to protest Chinese rule. Moved.

CHINA-DISSIDENT SENTENCED

BEIJING — A dissident Chinese poet whose detention has drawn an international appeal for his release is sentenced to 12 years in prison for contract fraud, his lawyer says. Moved. By Louise Watt.

AFGHANISTAN

KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghanistan's president accuses U.S. forces of continuing to capture and hold Afghans in violation of an agreement signed earlier this year between the two countries. Moved. By Rahim Faiez.

PAKISTAN

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — A government official says a female suicide bomber in northwest Pakistan detonated her explosives near the convoy of a former leader of the country's largest Islamist party. The former leader escaped unhurt but three of his aides were wounded. Moved.

KAZAKHSTAN-OPPOSITION LEADER

ALMATY, Kazakhstan — A court in Kazakhstan upholds the conviction of an opposition leader accused of fomenting unrest and mounting an attempt to overthrow the Central Asian nation's government. Moved.

KAZAKHSTAN-SPACE

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.

JAPAN-POLITICS

TOKYO — The main opposition Liberal Democratic Party is ahead in polls a month before Japan's parliamentary election, but many voters remain undecided, according to the Yomiuri newspaper. Moved.

JAPAN-US MILITARY

TOKYO — Police on Japan's Okinawa island turn over to prosecutors a case involving a U.S. airman suspected of assaulting a teenager after a drinking binge. Moved.

NEW ZEALAND-HOBBIT ANIMAL DEATHS

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Animal wranglers involved in the making of "The Hobbit" movie trilogy say the production company is responsible for the deaths of up to 27 animals, largely because they were kept at a farm filled with bluffs, sinkholes and other "death traps." Moved. By Nick Perry. AP Photos.

BUSINESS AND FINANCE:

SKOREA-CHINA-JAPAN-TRADE

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea, China and Japan will soon start talks for a free trade pact that will encompass three of the world's biggest economies, South Korea's trade minister says. Bark Tae-ho says the decision to start talks will be officially announced Tuesday at the East Asia Summit in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh. Moved. By Youkyung Lee.

CHINA-WEAK RECOVERY

BEIJING — Zhang Hanzhong, who supplies locks for auto manufacturers, is part of a swath of China's economy that is lagging in a two-speed recovery. Business for retailers, hotels, photo studios and other service industries is picking up as China limps out of its deepest slump since the 2008 global crisis. But exporters and manufacturers who drove its boom over the past decade are struggling. Moved. By Joe McDonald.

CHINA-GM

HONG KONG — General Motors Co. and its local Chinese partners launch a second plant to make cars for its local discount brand Baojun, ratcheting up the battle for customers at the fast-growing lower end of the world's biggest auto market. Moved. By Kelvin Chan.

CHINA-LUXURY BAGS

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.

HONG KONG-HSBC-PING AN

HONG KONG — HSBC, Europe's biggest bank, says it's in talks to sell its 15.6 percent stake in Chinese insurer Ping An. HSBC's stake in Ping An would be worth about $9.3 billion based on the current share price. Moved.

___

YOUR QUERIES: The Associated Press 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(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.

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