KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — North Korea's ambassador to Malaysia faced a deadline to leave the country Monday after authorities here declared him "persona non grata" and accused Pyongyang of trying to manipulate the investigation into the poisoning of Kim Jong Nam, the North Korean leader's half brother, at a Kuala Lumpur airport. The Malaysian government on Saturday gave Ambassador Kang Chol 48 hours to leave the country after he refused to apologize for his strong accusations over Malaysia's handling of the investigation into the Feb. 13 killing. "I think we have given a clear message to the North Korean government that we are serious about solving this problem and we do not want (the investigation) to be manipulated," Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was quoted as saying Sunday by Malaysian national news agency Bernama.
HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — A lawyer for one of the women accused of poisoning the estranged half brother of North Korea's leader says there are serious holes in the case. In an interview published Sunday by Vietnam's state-run online newspaper Zing, attorney Selvam Shanmugam, who represents Doan Thi Huong of Vietnam, said allegations that the North Korean man had existing health problems should be cause for a new autopsy. Kim Yong Nam was fatally poisoned at Kuala Lumpur airport on Feb. 13, and so far Doan Thi Huong and an Indonesian woman have been charged with murder. Malaysian authorities say the toxic VX nerve agent was used in the attack.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea on Monday fired four banned ballistic missiles that flew about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles), with three of them landing in waters that Japan claims as its exclusive economic zone, South Korean and Japanese officials said, in an apparent reaction to huge military drills by Washington and Seoul that Pyongyang insists are an invasion rehearsal. It was not immediately clear the exact type of missile fired, but the tests will be viewed as a provocation by the Trump administration in Washington, which is working on its policy for North Korea. The New York Times reported over the weekend that, despite efforts to perfect cyber and electronic strikes against North Korea's missile program, the United States still can't effectively counter Pyongyang's actions.
BEIJING (AP) — China's top economic official trimmed the country's growth target and warned Sunday of dangers from global pressure for trade controls as Beijing tries to build a consumer-driven economy and reduce reliance on exports and investment. In a speech to the national legislature, Premier Li Keqiang promised more steps to cut surplus steel production that is straining trade relations with Washington and Europe. He pledged equal treatment for foreign companies, apparently responding to complaints Beijing is trying to squeeze them out of technology and other promising markets. Li's report set the growth target for the world's second-largest economy at "around 6.5 percent or higher, if possible." That is down from last year's 6.7 percent expansion but, if achieved, would be among the world's strongest, reflecting confidence efforts to create new industries are gaining traction.
BEIJING (AP) — China's finance ministry said Sunday that the country's defense budget this year will top 1 trillion yuan ($145 billion) for the first time, after the exact figure was initially kept out of public documents released at the start of the country's annual legislative sessions. The ministry put the figure at 1.044 trillion yuan ($151 billion), a 7 percent increase from last year, marking the smallest percentage annual growth rate this century. A ministry information officer told The Associated Press the exact figure had already been released to the almost 3,000 delegates to the National People's Congress. But he didn't say why it had been withheld from the government budget report, where it usually appears.
BANGKOK (AP) — A look at recent developments in the South China Sea, where China is pitted against smaller neighbors in multiple disputes over islands, coral reefs and lagoons in waters crucial for global commerce and rich in fish and potential oil and gas reserves: ___ EDITOR'S NOTE: This is a weekly look at the latest developments in the South China Sea, home to several territorial conflicts that have raised tensions in the region. ___ US RAMPS UP PATROLS IN SOUTH CHINA SEA, IRRITATING BEIJING The USS Carl Vinson, which is steaming through the South China Sea, is just one of several high-profile displays of U.S.
President Donald Trump's assertion that journalists are "the enemy of the people," with its dark echoes of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, has reverberated through news organizations reporting from the White House and far beyond. Former President George W. Bush recently said "it's important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power, whether it be here or elsewhere." Yet reporters in some countries suffer repression, imprisonment, injury or death, conditions far worse than in the U.S. Here's what it's like covering leaders in more hostile or challenging environments. _____ EGYPT President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has made no secret of what he sees as the damage the media inflicts on his government or on Egypt's national security.
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia's prime minister said Monday that he was looking forward to discussing a free-trade deal with Indonesia while attending a regional forum in Jakarta. Malcom Turnbull on Tuesday will attend the first Indian Ocean Rim Association leaders' summit in the 20-year history of the 21-nation organization. Turnbull's one-day visit to Jakarta comes nine days after Joko "Jokowi" Widodo ended his first Australian visit as Indonesia's president. The leaders used that Sydney visit to commit to finalizing a bilateral free-trade agreement this year after 17 years of negotiations. Jokowi said the deal must remove all Australian barriers to the importation of Indonesian palm oil and paper.
BEIJING (AP) — Chinese Premier Li Keqiang pledged Sunday to make the country's smoggy skies blue again and "work faster" to address pollution caused by the burning of coal for heat and electricity. His words to delegates at the opening of the annual National People's Congress highlight how public discontent has made reducing smog, the most visible of China's environment problems, a priority for the leadership. The 10-day event got underway under a sunny blue sky, thanks to heavy gusts from the north that cleared away the unhealthy gray from the day before. Protests have increasingly broken out in cities where residents oppose the building of chemical plants and garbage incinerators, as China's middle class grows increasingly vocal in awareness of the dangers of pollution.
TOKYO (AP) — Japan's ruling party approved a change in party rules Sunday that could pave the way for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to become the country's longest-serving leader in the post-World War II era. It is a remarkable turnaround for Abe, who lasted only a year during an earlier stint as prime minister, and in a country that had six prime ministers in the six years before Abe returned to office in December 2012. Analysts say that Japan's 62-year-old leader learned from his first term in office, when he focused on divisive issues such as constitutional revision and patriotic education that contributed to his early downfall.