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Top Asian News 4:19 a.m. GMT

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House tried to swat away criticism Friday that the U.S. is getting nothing in exchange for agreeing to a historic face-to-face summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said North Korea has made promises to denuclearize, stop its nuclear and missile testing and allow joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises. But questions remained over exactly what North Korea means by "denuclearize" and what the U.S. might be risking with a highly publicized summit that will build up Kim's stature among world leaders. "Let's not forget that the North Koreans did promise something," Sanders said, responding to a reporter's question about why Trump agreed to a meeting — unprecedented between leaders of the two nations — without preconditions.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — After a year of threats and diatribes, U.S. President Donald Trump and third-generation North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un have agreed to meet face-to-face for talks about the North's nuclear program. It remains to be seen whether a summit, if it takes place, could lead to any meaningful breakthrough after an unusually provocative year. North Korea tested its most powerful nuclear weapon to date and test-launched three intercontinental ballistic missiles theoretically capable of striking the U.S. mainland. Will there be a breakthrough? Failure? Or merely the start of another long and difficult process meant to remove the North's nuclear capabilities?

BEIJING (AP) — The day China's ruling Communist Party unveiled a proposal to allow President Xi Jinping to rule indefinitely as Mao Zedong did a generation ago, Ma Bo was so shaken he couldn't sleep. So Ma, a renowned writer, wrote a social media post urging the party to remember the history of unchecked one-man rule that ended in catastrophe. "History is regressing badly," Ma thundered in his post. "As a Chinese of conscience, I cannot stay silent!" Censors silenced him anyway, swiftly wiping his post from the internet. As China's rubber-stamp legislature prepares to approve constitutional changes abolishing term limits for the president on Sunday, signs of dissent and biting satire have been all but snuffed out.

BEIJING (AP) — Below are major events in President Xi Jinping's rise as China's potential leader-for-life as the ceremonial legislature prepares to amend the constitution to remove presidential term limits. 1953 — Xi Jinping is born the second son of Xi Zhongxun, a Communist Party associate of People's Republic founder Mao Zedong who would go on to serve as a vice premier and be persecuted during Mao's political campaigns. Xi Zhongxun's political resurrection following Mao's 1976 death helped pave the way for his son's entry into provincial leadership positions. 1975 — Xi enters prestigious Tsinghua University, leaving his job as Communist Party branch secretary for the rural work unit to which he had been assigned as an "educated youth" during the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution.

ALONG THE BANGLADESH-MYANMAR BORDER (AP) — From their home, a tent hastily erected in a grassy field, the young Muslim Rohingya couple can see the village they left behind last year, fleeing attacks by Buddhist mobs and Myanmar security forces. They arrived in a no man's land, one of the small, ill-defined areas that exist at the cloudiest edges of the borderlands, places that seem to be neither Myanmar nor Bangladesh. While nearly every other Rohingya refugee who crossed the border has sought protection in the immense camps a few miles deeper into Bangladesh, these people say they will go no farther.

TOKYO (AP) — So President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un are planning a summit. What could possibly go wrong? The two countries haven't had significant, high-level talks in years and, as White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders emphasized, a meeting between the two leaders themselves could be the fastest way to turn around what has become an increasingly dangerous impasse. So a lot could go right. It's a bold, audacious and potentially groundbreaking gambit by both leaders. But if Trump doesn't play his cards wisely, and if his decision to accept Kim's summit offer was as hasty as the details out in public now suggest, he could risk unnecessarily elevating Kim's global status, setting up a diplomatic breakdown, and rushing other — possibly military — action to make up for it.

TOKYO (AP) — President Donald Trump could become the first sitting U.S. president to visit North Korea if plans for a summit with Kim Jong Un hold. But other prominent American political figures have visited Pyongyang, North Korea's capital, in the past, many with a similar goal of trying to stop its nuclear program. CARTER'S HISTORIC FIRST Jimmy Carter made history as the first former U.S. president to visit North Korea in June 1994. Carter's unofficial four-day visit included a meeting with then-North Korean leader Kim Il Sung, the grandfather of current leader Kim Jong Un. His intervention headed off a potential conflict and helped seal an aid-for-disarmament agreement that lasted nearly a decade.

President Donald Trump accepting a reported offer to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is a stunning turn of events after a year of heated verbal warfare that included crude insults and mutual threats of nuclear attacks. It remains to be seen whether a summit will take place or lead to a meaningful breakthrough, but here's a look at recent events: Jan. 1, 2017: Kim Jong Un says in a New Year's address that preparations for launching an intercontinental ballistic missile have "reached the final stage." Jan. 2: President-elect Donald Trump tweets, "North Korea just stated that it is in the final stages of developing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the U.S.

DJIBOUTI (AP) — The new electrified rail line snakes through the African desert, charting a course from a port along the Djibouti coast to Addis Ababa, the capital of land-locked Ethiopia. The Chinese built the railway, and part of the port, and the new military base next door. On the other end of the line, Chinese dollars financed Addis Ababa's new light rail, and the new ring road system, and the silver African Union headquarters that towers over the city. Across the Atlantic Ocean, America has noticed. From Djibouti to Ethiopia, Kenya to Egypt, the United States is sounding the alarm that the Chinese money flooding Africa comes with significant strings attached.

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — An Islamic State suicide bomber targeted Afghanistan's ethnic Hazaras on Friday, blowing himself up at a police checkpoint near a gathering of the minority Shiites in western Kabul, killing nine people and wounding 18, officials said. In northern Afghanistan, the Taliban assaulted an army outpost overnight in an hours-long firefight, and ambushed policemen sent to help the troops, killing six soldiers and 10 members of the local police. The attacks underscore the difficulties President Ashraf Ghani's government is facing as it battles a revamped Taliban insurgency and struggles to rein in the Islamic State group, whose affiliate in Afghanistan has grown stronger since it emerged in 2014.

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