Top Asian News 4:03 am GMT – Yahoo News

PAJU, South Korea (AP) — South Korea has cut off power and water supplies to a factory park in North Korea, officials said Friday, a day after the North deported all South Korean workers there and ordered a military takeover of the complex that had been the last major symbol of cooperation between the rivals. It is the latest in an escalating standoff over North Korea’s recent rocket launch that Seoul, Washington and their allies view as a banned test of missile technology. The North says its actions on the Kaesong complex were a response to Seoul’s earlier decision to suspend operations as punishment for the launch.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea’s sudden withdrawal from a factory park in North Korea is a severe blow for the South Korean businesses that populated it, but is unlikely to make much difference to the North’s decrepit economy despite being a stern diplomatic measure. Aiming to punish North Korea for a rocket launch on Sunday, South Korea’s government said earlier this week it will shut down the Kaesong industrial complex. It accused North Korea of using the cash it earns from South Korean involvement in the rare venture between the two Koreas to finance its weapons programs. Pyongyang responded Thursday by announcing a military takeover of the complex near the border of the two countries, ordering all South Koreans to leave, and seizing the possible bounty of equipment and assets left behind.

TOKYO (AP) — North Korea reacted quickly and sternly Thursday to South Korea’s announcement it will suspend operations at a jointly run factory complex just north of the Demilitarized Zone that is the last major cooperative project between the two countries. It’s always difficult to gauge the true intentions of Pyongyang’s secretive ruling regime, but here’s a look at what it might mean. ___ Q: What did North Korea say? A: It came out swinging. It condemned South Korean President Park Geun-hye as a “traitor for all times” and said the South’s decision to suspend operations at the Kaesong Industrial Zone marks the “end to the last lifeline of the north-south relations.” It said it will block cross-border transport to the zone from the South; put the area under military control; expel all South Koreans from the zone; freeze all assets of South Korean enterprises operating there; cut off two hotlines with the South; and remove all of its own workers from the zone.

TAINAN, Taiwan (AP) — Taiwanese leaders and relatives held a memorial service on Friday for victims of last weekend’s earthquake as the official death toll rose to 94. President Ma Ying-jeou and president-elect Tsai Ing-wen attended the ceremony, offering flowers and shaking hands with relatives and Buddhist monks before leaving without making any public remarks. Family members lit incense and bowed before the victims’ photographs, arranged in rows. Friday marks the seventh day since the earthquake and a day of special mourning, according to traditional Chinese funeral rituals. The death toll rose to 94 early Friday, according to Taiwan’s Interior Ministry, with as many as 41 people are still missing and presumed trapped under the rubble.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration says a North Korea sanctions bill that won Senate approval is consistent with U.S. efforts to increase pressure on North Korea over its development of nuclear weapons. Deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes says that the administration has a process for reviewing such legislation but does not oppose the bill. A version of the legislation has already passed the House. Rhodes told a Washington think tank on Thursday that the administration and Congress are “in the same space” and agree on the need for increased sanctions. Republican and Democratic senators set aside their partisan differences Wednesday to unanimously the legislation aimed at cutting North Korea’s access to hard currency.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States has expanded its fight against the Islamic State group in Afghanistan, launching 20 airstrikes in the eastern part of the country in the last three weeks, U.S. officials said Thursday. The strikes come in the wake of a decision by the Obama administration to give the Pentagon the authority to conduct airstrikes against IS in Afghanistan, as the militant group’s numbers there continue to grow. Army Brig. Gen. Wilson A. Shoffner told reporters that 1,000 to 3,000 Islamic State fighters in eastern Afghanistan are trying to establish a base of operations in the rugged mountains of Nangahar Province.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration said Thursday it is urging China and Taiwan to maintain dialogue amid concern that the election of an independence-leaning party on the island could heighten tensions in one of Asia’s security hotspots. A House foreign affairs panel on Asia examined the implications for Washington of the January election that throws new uncertainty over the relationship between democratic Taiwan and the communist mainland, which claims the island as its own territory, to be recovered by force if necessary. The United States is Taiwan’s most important ally and source of defensive arms, but it has applauded the easing of cross-Strait relations under the outgoing Nationalist government, which fostered economic cooperation with China.

TOKYO (AP) — A married Japanese ruling party lawmaker resigned Friday for allegedly having an affair while publicly announcing he would seek to take paternity leave to promote women’s rights. Kensuke Miyazaki bowed repeatedly and apologized profusely at a news conference broadcast live on Japanese television. “I did something very cruel to my wife who just delivered a baby. I am in deep remorse,” he said, speaking with some difficulty as camera flashes lit up his face. “To those who took serious interest in the issue of men taking paternity leave, I deeply, deeply apologize,” he said. The 35-year-old lower house member from Kyoto prefecture had drawn both praise and criticism after saying he would take the rare step of taking time off work to help care for his child.

SYDNEY (AP) — Prosecutors dropped a charge against a 92-year-old retired surgeon on Friday that alleged he had smuggled 1 million Australian dollars ($700,000) in cocaine hidden on bars of soap into Sydney airport. Victor Twartz was due to appear in the New South Wales District Court in Sydney on a charge of importing a commercial quantity of cocaine, which carries a potential life sentence. But the Sydney resident did not appear and prosecutors told the judge that the charge had been dropped. No explanation was given. Twartz had been scheduled to stand trial later this month. Twartz had said he would fight the charge because criminals had tricked him into carrying 27 soap bars packed with 4.5 kilograms (10 pounds) of cocaine when he returned to Australia from New Delhi on July 8, 2014.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration is criticizing Cambodia’s government for threats against the political opposition as the Southeast Asian nation’s prime minister prepares to make his first official U.S. visit during 31 years in power. Prime Minister Hun Sen is set to attend a summit of the leaders of the U.S. and Southeast Asia in California next week. Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes expressed concern Thursday over intimidation of opposition lawmakers in Cambodia in recent weeks, and against people planning to protest in the U.S. against Hun Sen’s visit. Human Rights Watch says Hun Sen and his supporters are telling Cambodian-American citizens that if they protest on U.S.

Top Asian News 4:03 am GMT – Yahoo News

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