BC-AS--Asian News Digest, AS

ASIA:

CHINA-FOOD IMPORT CONTROLS — China's trading partners are bringing the top U.N. food standards official to Beijing in a last-ditch attempt to persuade regulators to scale back plans to require intensive inspections of food imports — including such low-risk items as wine and chocolate — that Washington and Europe say could disrupt billions of dollars in commerce. The rule could inflame tensions with the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump, who has promised to raise tariffs on imports from China, and the European Union. By Joe McDonald and Gillian Wong. SENT: 800 words, photos.

JAPAN-RUSSIA — Russia views U.S. missile defense systems being deployed in northeast Asia as a threat to regional security, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says following talks with Japanese officials in Tokyo. By Elaine Kurtenbach. SENT: 710 words, photos.

CHINA-ISRAEL — Israel wants to boost cooperation with China in technology, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tells China's premier, as he leads a large business delegation on a visit to Beijing to promote commercial ties with the Asian giant. By Christopher Bodeen. SENT: 400 words, photos.

EAST TIMOR-ELECTION — East Timor votes for a new president in an election that will test Asia's newest and poorest nation. By Raimundos Oki. SENT: 300 words, photos.

AUSTRALIA-LAWMAKERS' NUMBERS — Private cellphone numbers of most Australian federal lawmakers, their staff and several former prime ministers are made public after a government department failed to properly remove them from a routine report. SENT: 260 words.

AUSTRALIA-US-REFUGEES — U.S. security officers begin fingerprinting refugees held on Pacific islands in the final stage of assessing who will find new lives in the United States, asylum seekers say. By Rod McGuirk. SENT: 320 words.

AUSTRALIA-GROUNDED PLANES — Five Regional Express Airlines passenger planes are grounded as a precaution after a near disaster in which a propeller fell off an airliner as it approached Sydney Airport. By Rod McGuirk. SENT: 270 words.

AUSTRALIA-CROCODILE ATTACK — An Australian teen who was attacked by a crocodile after jumping into a crocodile-infested river on a dare is recovering from serious wounds to his arm, as authorities recover the body of another man who also may have been attacked by a crocodile in nearby waters. SENT: 390 words.

PAKISTAN-AFGHANISTAN — Pakistan's prime minister orders the reopening of the country's border with Afghanistan, ending a protracted closure that has cost businesses on both sides millions of dollars and deepened tensions between the two neighbors. By Riaz Khan. SENT: 430 words.

PAKISTAN-INDIA-WATER DISPUTE — Pakistani and Indian experts open talks in Islamabad over water disputes between the two nuclear-armed neighbors, even as tensions over competing claims to Kashmir remain high. SENT: 230 words.

AFGHANISTAN — An Afghan official says the Taliban have attacked a military checkpoint in a southern province, killing three Afghan soldiers. By Mirwais Khan. SENT: 130 words.

NKOREA-MINING ACCIDENT — Six people died when the roof of a mine in North Korea collapsed in January, the North's state media report, in a rare admission of a deadly accident in the secretive country. By Hyung-jin Kim. SENT: 480 words.

BANGLADESH-MYANMAR — A Bangladesh official says an investigating team formed by Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi has visited two makeshift camps in southern Bangladesh and questioned some of the thousands of Rohingya Muslims who have fled from Myanmar, alleging mistreatment by soldiers and majority Buddhists. SENT: 120 words.

THAILAND-FIREARMS SEIZURE — Thai police say they are looking for more weapons believed to be part of a plot to assassinate the prime minister, after police discovered guns and thousands of bullets allegedly belonging to an anti-establishment leader. By Kaweewit Kaewjinda. SENT: 430 words.

NEPAL-EVEREST — Some climbers attempting to scale Mount Everest during the upcoming spring climbing season will be strapped with a GPS device to locate them in case they are in trouble and to prevent false claims of reaching the summit, officials say. By Binaj Gurubacharya. SENT: 320 words.

THE WEEK THAT WAS IN ASIA-PHOTO GALLERY — SENT: 240 words, photos.

BUSINESS AND FINANCE:

FINANCIAL MARKETS — Global stocks are lower after finance ministers from major economies drop a pledge to oppose trade protectionism from a weekend statement due to resistance by the Trump administration. By Joe McDonald. SENT: 600 words.

INDIA-VODAFONE MERGER — British telecom company Vodafone's Indian unit announces a merger with Idea Cellular, a local company, creating India's largest telecom operator, with around 400 million customers. SENT: 280 words.

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