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Top Asian News 2:16 a.m. GMT

October 6, 2021 GMT

Taliban meet with UK, Iran delegations amid economic woes

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Afghanistan’s Taliban leaders met Tuesday with U.K. officials for the first time since taking power, a move the group hopes will pave the way for the country to refill cash-starved coffers as it teeters on the brink of economic collapse. The Taliban said meanwhile they arrested 11 members of the rival Islamic State group. The Taliban’s meeting with British diplomats in the capital Kabul came a day after they met with an Iranian delegation — another first since assuming the helm — to discuss trade relations, a key driver of Afghanistan’s economy. The Taliban met with Sir Simon Gass, the British prime minister’s high representative for Afghan transition, and Martin Longden, the chargé d’affaires of the U.K.

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Australia won’t welcome foreign tourists until at least 2022

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Foreign tourists won’t be welcomed back to Australia until at least next year, the prime minister said Tuesday as he outlined plans for lifting some of the toughest and longest COVID-19 travel restrictions imposed by any democracy. The country will instead prioritize the return of skilled migrants and students after it hits Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s benchmark for reopening its external borders: the full vaccination of 80% of the population aged 16 and older. It is expected to reach that point Tuesday. The news comes just days after Morrison announced plans to allow vaccinated citizens and permanent residents to fly overseas from November for the first time since March 2020.

Assailants fatally shoot 3 men in disputed Kashmir

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SRINAGAR, India (AP) — Assailants separately shot and killed three men in Indian-controlled Kashmir late Tuesday, police said, blaming militants fighting against Indian rule in the disputed region for the string of targeted attacks. In the first incident, police said militants fired at a prominent chemist, Makhan Lal Bindroo, at his pharmacy in the region’s main city of Srinagar. Bindroo, a Kashmiri Hindu, was taken to a hospital where he died, police said, adding that government forces cordoned off the area and launched a manhunt for assailants. Within an hour, a street food vendor from India’s eastern state of Bihar was shot-point blank in another neighborhood in Srinagar, killing him on the spot, police said.

Myanmar’s Suu Kyi to testify in own defense later this month

BANGKOK (AP) — Myanmar’s ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi this month will give courtroom testimony for the first time in one of the several cases against her since the military took power in February, her lawyers said Tuesday. She and two co-defendants charged with incitement will testify in their own defense but will not call any other witnesses, said lawyer Khin Maung Zaw. Suu Kyi’s testimony is scheduled to begin Oct. 26. The prosecution has finished presenting its witnesses in the case being heard in a special court in the capital Naypyitaw. Suu Kyi’s supporters and independent analysts say the charges against her are contrived and an attempt to discredit her and legitimize the military’s seizure of power.

Physics Nobel rewards work on climate change, other forces

STOCKHOLM (AP) — Three scientists won the Nobel Prize in physics Tuesday for work that found order in seeming disorder, helping to explain and predict complex forces of nature, including expanding our understanding of climate change. Syukuro Manabe, originally from Japan, and Klaus Hasselmann of Germany were cited for their work in developing forecast models of Earth’s climate and “reliably predicting global warming.” The second half of the prize went to Giorgio Parisi of Italy for explaining disorder in physical systems, ranging from those as small as the insides of atoms to the planet-sized. Hasselmann told The Associated Press that he “would rather have no global warming and no Nobel Prize.” Manabe said that figuring out the physics behind climate change was “1,000 times” easier than getting the world to do something about it.

US, France edge closer to rapprochement after AUKUS spat

PARIS (AP) — France and the United States edged closer Tuesday toward rapprochement after the Biden administration’s exclusion of Washington’s oldest ally from a new Indo-Pacific security initiative ignited French anger. French President Emmanuel Macron and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met in Paris to explore ways to overcome the rift over the deal, which scuttled a multibillion-dollar French submarine contract with Australia and led Macron’s government to take the unprecedented step of recalling its ambassador to the U.S. In a French television interview after the meeting with Macron, Blinken accepted a U.S. share of responsibility for the disagreement. “We could and we should have communicated better,” Blinken said, speaking in French.

Thailand eyes developing storms as flooding continues

BANGKOK (AP) — As floodwaters persisted in areas of northern and central Thailand and have started to hit low-lying areas in the capital, officials were looking warily ahead Tuesday to developing storms later this month, but were optimistic the devastation of a decade ago would not be repeated. The Royal Irrigation Department was forced this week to start releasing water from the Pasak Jolasid Dam after it reached capacity, dumping more water into a major artery that flows into the Chao Phraya River, which snakes through Bangkok before it reaches the sea. At the moment, experts say there doesn’t seem to be any danger of the widespread flooding that hit Bangkok in 2011, though the additional water and higher tides at the end of the week will continue to affect particularly prone riverside areas.

Son of ousted Philippine dictator to seek presidency

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The son and namesake of the late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who was toppled in a 1986 revolt, announced Tuesday that he would seek the presidency in next year’s elections in what activists say is an attempt to whitewash a dark period in the country’s history marked by plunder and human rights atrocities. Former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. said in a brief Facebook video that he would unite Filipinos to be able to overcome the coronavirus pandemic that has destroyed lives, battered the economy and brought widespread misery. Issues surrounding the Marcoses, however, continue to stoke political divisions more than three decades after the dictator’s downfall.

BTS campaign with UN nets millions of dollars -- and tweets

NEW YORK (AP) — K-pop superstars BTS have raised $3.6 million and generated millions of tweets during four years of teaming up with the U.N. children’s agency to fight violence, abuse and bullying and promote self-esteem in young people, the agency is announcing Wednesday. The “Love Myself” campaign spread its message through means including social media hashtags, merchandise, the South Korean band’s 2018-2019 “Love Yourself” world tour and a 2019 video for the children’s agency, called UNICEF, urging people to “choose kindness.” The “Love Myself” slogan was even emblazoned on dirigibles flown over the musicians’ hometowns in 2017. UNICEF had booths at BTS concerts, and the band members filmed a music video at the U.N.

Australian court overrules judge who socialized with lawyer

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s highest court on Wednesday overturned a ruling of a family court judge who did not declare he had coffee chats with a lawyer involved in the case. The five High Court judges unanimously agreed that the 2018 ruling should be set aside because of Judge John Walters’ “apprehended bias.” As a result of the test case, the independent Australian Law Reform Commission must report to the federal government within two months on the adequacy of laws dealing with judicial impartiality. The case involved a Family Court property settlement that divided assets between a Perth real estate agent and his former wife, who under Australian law cannot be identified.