BEIJING (AP) — A senior Chinese official is striking a reassuring note about Beijing's commitment to progress in North Korea's denuclearization, after President Donald Trump accused China of interfering in talks between Pyongyang and Washington. Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou told reporters Friday that China and the U.S. have "maintained close coordination and communication" on the issue. Acknowledging that the process "will not be plain sailing," Kong says he believed that if talks are held candidly and on an equal basis, with mutual respect, "all the questions will find the right answers." On Monday, Trump tweeted that China "may be exerting negative pressure" on North Korea because of an escalating trade dispute between the U.S.
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump on Thursday tweeted a letter to him from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un heralding "epochal progress" in U.S.-North Korea relations, despite signs that path-finding diplomacy between the adversaries is running into problems. Trump described the letter as a "very nice note" and said, "Great progress being made!" The letter is dated July 6. That's when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Pyongyang and seemingly made little progress in fleshing out details of North Korea's commitment for "complete denuclearization." Kim made that commitment when he met Trump in Singapore last month. Kim also agreed then to repatriate remains of U.S.
CHIANG RAI, Thailand (AP) — The Thai and foreign rescuers of the youth soccer team trapped in a cave for 18 days began heading home Thursday, as doctors said the boys they saved have so far not shown any significant ill effects from their ordeal. Members of the Thai navy SEAL team, who were among the first searchers to penetrate the watery depth of Tham Luang Nang Non cave and the last divers out, flew to their base at Sattahip on the Gulf of Thailand, where they received a heroes' welcome. The ceremony was capped with their commander leading a rousing round of the navy cheer 'Hooyah!' that became a trademark of their never-say-die effort to extricate the boys.
TOKYO (AP) — About 20 percent of North Korean children are stunted because of malnutrition, and half the children in rural areas are drinking unsafe water, a senior U.N. official visiting the country said. Much progress has been made compared with 20 years ago, but "significant humanitarian challenges" remain, Mark Lowcock, the undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs, said Wednesday at a news conference in Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea. The U.N. issued a transcript of his remarks. The United Nations is trying to raise $111 million to meet health, water and sanitation and food security needs for about 6 million people in North Korea.
BEIJING (AP) — China's imports from North Korea plunged 92.6 percent in June compared with a year earlier under U.N. sanctions imposed to stop Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs, the customs agency said Friday. Exports of Chinese oil and other goods to the North fell 40.6 percent, a customs agency spokesman, Huang Songping, said at a news conference. He gave no financial totals. The trade curbs have remained in place despite diplomatic contacts including U.S. President Donald Trump's June meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. American Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who visited Pyongyang this month, said sanctions wouldn't be lifted until Kim follows through on his pledge to scrap its nuclear weapons.
BEIJING (AP) — A blast in an industrial park in a southwestern province has killed 19 people and injured 12 others, China's official Xinhua News Agency said Friday. The blast occurred at the Yibin Hengda Technology Co., a chemical plant in an industrial park in the city of Yibin in Sichuan province at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Xinhua said. Xinhua cited the Jiang'an county government as saying the fire was put out on Friday morning and the injured were in stable condition. Efforts have been made to improve work safety standards but deadly industrial accidents remain common in China, where enforcement of safety regulations can sometimes be lax.
A man lies in a pool of chilies as he takes part in a chili eating competition in Ningxiang in China's central Hunan province. In other images from the Asia-Pacific region this week, rescuers in Thailand carry one of the 12 boys from a flooded cave where they were trapped with their coach for more than two weeks. Relatives grieve their dead in Indian-controlled Kashmir after government forces fired at anti-India protesters who disrupted a counterinsurgency operation. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo prepares for a photo with his Vietnamese counterpart, Pham Binh Minh, during a visit to Hanoi. ___ This gallery was curated by Associated Press photo editor Toru Takahashi in Tokyo.
LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) — Officials say disgraced ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will be whisked away by helicopter to the federal capital of Islamabad when he returns to Pakistan's eastern city of Lahore from London to face a 10-year jail sentence on corruption charges. Sharif is to return at 6 p.m. Friday from London where he has been visiting his ailing wife. He is to be accompanied by his daughter Mariam, who was sentenced to seven years in prison. Sharif's son-in-law is currently serving his one-year prison sentence. Sharif is expected to appeal his conviction and seek bail. Ahead of his return, police swept through Lahore, arresting scores of Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League party workers to prevent them from greeting him at the airport.
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — An Australian state police chief on Thursday made an historic apology to indigenous people who are overrepresented in prisons and vowed to improve race relations. Western Australia Police Commissioner Chris Dawson said police were key participants in past wrongs against indigenous people in the state over decades, including enforcing government policies of removing mixed-race children from Aboriginal families until the 1970s. The children are known as the Stolen Generations. Many were institutionalized, abused and neglected. "Some of the comments I'll be making shortly are confronting and may make some people feel uncomfortable, but I understand that truth-telling is an important part of enabling and facilitating change," Dawson said in a speech at police headquarters in Perth.
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The Taliban struck Thursday in Afghanistan's northern province of Kunduz, leaving 15 soldiers dead there, and in western Farah province, where they killed four policemen, officials said. In Kunduz, Taliban fighters tried to overrun a military security post in the district of Dasht-e-Arch, using artillery shells, according to army spokesman Mohammad Hanif Rezaie, who is based in Balkh province. Along with the 15 killed, at least 13 soldiers were wounded in the four-hour-long gunbattle, he added. Rezaie also said that at least six Taliban fighters were killed, their bodies left lying on the site. However, Mohammad Yosuf Ayubi, the head of the provincial council, said as many as 30 soldiers were killed.