KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Tuesday he believes victory in Afghanistan is still possible — not necessarily on the battlefield but in facilitating a Taliban reconciliation with the Afghan government. Mattis spoke shortly before arriving in Kabul, where security concerns were so high that reporters traveling with him were not allowed to publish stories until his party had moved from the Kabul airport to the U.S.-led military coalition's headquarters. That was the first such restriction on coverage of a Pentagon chief's visit in memory. Mattis said he would be meeting with President Ashraf Ghani and top U.S.
KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — "I say again, turn!" the air traffic controller called over the radio, his voice rising, as the flight from Bangladesh swerved low over the runway at Kathmandu's small airport. Seconds later, the plane crashed into a field beside the runway, erupting in flames and leaving 49 of the 71 people on board dead. That moment Monday appeared to result from minutes of confused chatter between the control tower and the pilot of the US-Bangla passenger plane, as they discussed which direction the pilot should use to land on the airport's single runway. A separate radio conversation between the tower and at least one Nepali pilot reflected the sense of miscommunication.
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. adviser on preventing genocide said Tuesday that all information he has received indicates the Myanmar government intended to get rid of Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state and possibly even destroy them "which, if proven, would constitute the crime of genocide." Adama Dieng visited Bangladesh from March 7-13 to assess the situation of the Rohingyas and called what he heard and witnessed "a human tragedy with the fingerprints of the Myanmar government and of the international community." "The scorched-earth campaign carried out by the Myanmar security forces since August 2017 against the Rohingya population was predictable and preventable," Dieng said in a statement.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Prosecutors on Wednesday were questioning South Korea's conservative former President Lee Myung-bak over corruption allegations, making him the latest of the country's leaders entangled in scandal. The move came about two weeks after prosecutors demanded a 30-year prison term for his conservative successor, Park Geun-hye, over a separate bribery scandal that led to weeks of massive anti-government protests. Park is jailed as she awaits a court verdict set for early next month. "I stand here today feeling wretched," Lees said in televised remarks after arriving at a Seoul prosecutors' office. "I am very sorry for causing worry for the people." South Korean politicians accused of misdoing often apologize for causing trouble while still denying wrongdoing.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand on Wednesday censured its second-ranking diplomat in Washington after she sent tweets saying U.S. Democrats needed to get their act together for the next presidential election "or we will all die." Deputy Head of Mission Caroline Beresford later deleted the anti-President Donald Trump tweets and made her account private. New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said the tweets didn't meet its code of conduct for social media, which require diplomatic staff to maintain political neutrality and take care in expressing personal opinions. "The ministry does not in any way endorse the content or tone of the tweets," it said in a statement.
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lankan activists and journalists are demanding the government end a weeklong shutdown of several social media sites now that anti-Muslim violence in the island's central hills has eased. The government imposed a state of emergency last week and blocked Facebook, WhatsApp and other sites to stop rumors from spreading after Buddhist mobs swept through towns and villages, burning Muslim homes and businesses. Thousands of troops were deployed and the area has been peaceful, with no attacks reported since Thursday. Freddie Gamage of the Professional Web Journalists' Association said the government could have used existing laws to prevent spreading of hate speech and punished those instigating violence, instead of blocking social media.
BEIJING (AP) — China is set to give President Xi Jinping a powerful new weapon as he prepares to rule indefinitely — a Communist Party-led anti-corruption agency to police not only the party's cadres, but also doctors, teachers, entertainers and other state employees. The move is part of a sweeping government reorganization to boost the authority of the party headed by Xi, who has firmly established himself as China's most formidable leader since Mao Zedong. On Sunday, China's rubber-stamp legislature scrapped a two-term limit on the presidency, paving the way for Xi to rule for as long as he wants. That has dismayed critics who fear a return to one-man rule and the destruction of modest measures in place since 1982 to constrain power in China.
BEIJING (AP) — China's move to scrap term limits and allow Xi Jinping to serve as president indefinitely puts him on track to deal with some of the country's weightiest long-term sovereignty challenges, especially the fates of Hong Kong and Taiwan. The question is, will Xi bet big on bold moves that could result in potentially disastrous consequences? Hong Kong offers a delicate initial test. Since passing from British to Chinese rule in 1997, the financial hub has operated as a "special administrative region," retaining its own legal and economic system and enjoying a considerable degree of autonomy from Beijing. That arrangement was supposed to last 50 years, until 2047, but calls for political reform in the city and what many see as Beijing tightening its controls and encroaching on freedoms there have created rising tensions.
TOKYO (AP) — Hopes for the release of three American citizens imprisoned in North Korea got a big boost by the news of a possible summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Freeing the prisoners would be relatively low-hanging fruit and a sign of goodwill by Kim. It would also mark something of a personal success for Trump, who has highlighted the issue since last June, when University of Virginia student Otto Warmbier died days after North Korea turned him over to American authorities. Trump banned Americans from traveling to the North in response and featured Warmbier's father prominently in his State of the Union speech in January.
TOKYO (AP) — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met with South Korea's intelligence chief on Tuesday, and said that while he welcomes any dialogue with North Korea regarding the country's denuclearization, the North must take real steps toward that goal. "I believe it is extremely important that North Korea takes concrete actions to achieve what it has said," Abe said at the beginning of talks with South Korean intelligence chief Suh Hoon. President Donald Trump has agreed to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un by May, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in is set to meet Kim in late April.