BEIJING (AP) — Following President Donald Trump's visit to Beijing, China said Wednesday it is sending a high-level special envoy to North Korea amid an extended chill in relations between the neighbors over Pyongyang's nuclear weapons and missile programs. Song Tao, the head of China's ruling Communist Party's International Liaison Department, will travel to Pyongyang on Friday to report on outcomes of the party's national congress held last month, the official Xinhua News Agency said. Xinhua made no mention of Trump's visit or the North's weapons programs, although Trump has repeatedly called on Beijing to do more to use its influence to pressure Pyongyang into altering its behavior.
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Sri Lanka's defense minister denied Tuesday that his country committed torture and rape of suspected rebels, as charged by more than 50 men of the island's Tamil ethnic minority who are seeking political asylum in Europe. Kapila Waidyaratne called the claims of abuses "baseless and unfounded." "The government of Sri Lanka is for zero tolerance with regard to sexual abuse and so on," Waidyaratne told The Associated Press as he attended the U.N. Peacekeeping Defense Ministerial conference in Vancouver. The allegations came in a Nov. 8 report by the AP on the asylum seekers and their claims of being abducted and tortured by Sri Lanka's current government.
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australians supported gay marriage in a postal survey that ensures Parliament will consider legalizing same-sex weddings this year. The Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Wednesday 62 percent of registered voters who responded in the unprecedented survey favored reform. The conservative government promised to allow a bill creating marriage equality to be considered in Parliament in the final two-week session that is due to end on Dec. 7. A "no" vote in the survey would have put marriage equality off the political agenda, perhaps for years. Thousands of marriage equality supporters waving rainbow flags gathered anxiously in city parks around the country and cheered when the results was announced.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Three UCLA basketball players detained in China on suspicion of shoplifting returned home, where they may be disciplined by the school as a result of the international scandal. Freshmen LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley arrived at Los Angeles International Airport late Tuesday afternoon after a 12-hour flight from Shanghai. They ignored reporters' shouted questions while making their way through a horde of media outside and getting into a van that took off from the departure level. Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said the matter "has been resolved to the satisfaction of the Chinese authorities." The players were detained in Hangzhou for questioning following allegations of shoplifting last week before the 23rd-ranked Bruins beat Georgia Tech in their season-opening game in Shanghai as part of the Pac-12 China game.
HONG KONG (AP) — The Chinese government should stop hospitals and other medical facilities from subjecting LGBT people to conversion therapy that in some cases has involved electroshock, involuntary confinement and forced medication, a human rights group said Wednesday. The report released by New York-based Human Rights Watch, based on interviews with 17 people subjected to the widely criticized techniques since 2009, comes as awareness has grown in China regarding the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Homosexuality was removed from China's official list of mental illnesses more than 15 years ago, but stories of families enrolling their relatives in treatments seeking to change their sexual orientation remain common.
BANGKOK (AP) — When the latest distress call came into Phinyo Pukphinyo's fire station in Bangkok, it was not about a burning home or office building. Instead, the caller needed urgent help with a far more common problem facing Thailand's capital: snakes. A 2-meter (10-foot) -long python was dangling from the caller's garage roof, and after rushing to the scene, it took Phinyo less than a minute to remove the slithering reptile. The number of snakes ending up in urban homes is on the rise in Bangkok, apparently in part because of development pains in the vast metropolis of about 10 million people.
JAYAPURA, Indonesia (AP) — Gunmen shot and killed an Indonesian police officer Wednesday in the latest suspected attack by separatists near a giant gold and copper mine in easternmost Papua. Another officer was wounded in the attack on a patrol near the mine owned by Phoenix, Arizona-based Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc., said Papua police spokesman Ahmad Musthofa Kamal. Tensions in the region have flared in the past month. Members of the National Liberation Army of West Papua have declared an area near the mine a battlefield with Indonesian security forces and last week stationed fighters in two villages. One paramilitary police officer was killed and six others wounded in attacks last month.
MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he was angered and insulted on Tuesday by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's comments about the Philippine government's war on drugs, which has earned widespread condemnation for leaving thousands of suspects dead. Trudeau said he raised concerns about human rights abuses and extrajudicial killings in Duterte's anti-drug campaign when he met Tuesday with the president ahead of Canada's summit in the Philippines with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Trudeau was the first leader of the 20 attending this week's ASEAN summit and related meetings who has publicly said he brought up the touchy issue with the volatile Filipino leader.
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Afghans are slightly more optimistic about the future than they were last year, despite a stagnant economy and near-constant attacks by a revitalized Taliban, according to the results of a nationwide poll released Tuesday. The annual survey by the San Francisco-based Asia Foundation, released in Kabul, found that 32.8 percent of Afghans believe their country is moving in the right direction, up from 29.3 percent in 2016. Another 61.2 percent said the country is heading in the wrong direction, down from 65.9 percent — a record high — in 2016. The foundation acknowledged that the slight increase in optimism is "difficult to explain." The country has been mired in war since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion.
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump told a fanciful little tale Tuesday about Air Force One being denied landing rights in the Philippines during a trip by his predecessor because bilateral relations were so bad. That didn't happen. Before boarding the plane in Manila to come home, Trump bragged to the press that he's pushed relations with the Philippines to new heights. "And as you know, we were having a lot of problems with the Philippines," he said. "The relationship with the past administration was horrible, to use a nice word. I would say horrible is putting it mildly. You know what happened.