Top Asian News 3:48 a.m. GMT

BEIJING (AP) — China's move to scrap term limits and allow Xi Jinping to serve as president indefinitely puts him on track to deal with some of the country's weightiest long-term sovereignty challenges, especially the fates of Hong Kong and Taiwan. The question is, will Xi bet big on bold moves that could result in potentially disastrous consequences? Hong Kong offers a delicate initial test. Since passing from British to Chinese rule in 1997, the financial hub has operated as a "special administrative region," retaining its own legal and economic system and enjoying a considerable degree of autonomy from Beijing. That arrangement was supposed to last 50 years, until 2047, but calls for political reform in the city and what many see as Beijing tightening its controls and encroaching on freedoms there have created rising tensions.

KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — A plane crash at Nepal's main airport killed 49 people among the 71 on board, police said Tuesday, after a recording indicated confusion over the landing direction before the plane, flying low and erratically, struck the ground and erupted in flames. The pilot did not follow the control tower's instructions and approached the airport's one runway from the wrong direction, the Kathmandu airport's general manager said. "The airplane was not properly aligned with the runway. The tower repeatedly asked if the pilot was OK and the reply was 'yes,'" Raj Kumar Chetri said. But the conversations between the pilot and air traffic controllers indicated confusion over which direction the plane should land.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States says it will not impose more conditions on North Korea before a summit of the two nations' leaders, beyond the North's promise not to resume nuclear and missile tests or publicly criticize U.S.-South Korean military exercises. But the uncertainty still lingers over plans for the first-ever meeting of a serving U.S. president and a North Korean leader. Four days after the surprise announcement that President Donald Trump has agreed to meet the North's Kim Jong Un by May, Washington has yet to hear directly from Pyongyang on the invitation extended by Kim via South Korean intermediaries.

TOKYO (AP) — Japan's leader is calling on North Korea to take concrete steps toward denuclearization. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tuesday that he welcomes any dialogue premised on denuclearization. He spoke ahead of a meeting in Tokyo with South Korea intelligence chief Suh Hoon. President Donald Trump has agreed to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un by May, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in is set to meet Kim in late April. Suh is in Tokyo to brief Japanese officials on developments. He was part of a South Korean delegation that met Kim in Pyongyang last week. Another senior member of the delegation has briefed Chinese officials in Beijing.

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.S. national security adviser said Monday that the U.N. Security Council supports President Donald Trump's optimism about the opportunity for a diplomatic solution in North Korea — and his intention to keep up maximum pressure until there is "real progress" toward denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. H.R. McMaster told reporters after briefing the council that Trump approved the maximum pressure strategy against North Korea about a year ago and that the president wanted to thank council members "for their unity and resolve" in adopting tough sanctions against North Korea. "It has us now to a point where we may be able to pursue a diplomatic solution to the complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula," McMaster said.

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump blocked Singapore chipmaker Broadcom from pursuing a hostile takeover of U.S. rival Qualcomm, ruling the proposed combination would imperil national security. The decision, announced late Monday, abruptly ends Broadcom's four-month, $117 billion bid to buy Qualcomm — a deal that would have been the largest ever completed in the technology industry. In a statement, Broadcom said it "strongly disagrees" that the acquisition raises any national-security concerns. Qualcomm did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Trump's order gives Broadcom few options other than to drop its bid, said Macquarie Securities analyst Srinivas Pajjuri. Broadcom faced challenges almost from the start of its quest.

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani has put a peace offer on the table, and analysts say the ball is now in the Taliban's court. But so far the militants are showing no sign of being interested. Ghani's offer calls for unconditional talks accompanied by a cease-fire, recognition of the Taliban as a political party, an office in Kabul and the release of some prisoners. Ghani said he would also try to get Taliban leaders removed from international terrorist lists, as well as provide them with passports to allow them to travel freely. The Taliban, who have long demanded to talk directly to the United States before the Kabul government, replied with silence.

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Afghan security forces recaptured a district headquarters in western Farah province on Monday, just hours after the Taliban overrun the police and administrative offices, killing eight policemen, a spokesman said. The development came as insurgent attacks against security forces have stepped up across Afghanistan, including in Farah province. In Monday's assault, the Taliban launched a multi-pronged attack and stormed the district headquarters in Anardara, which they were able to hold on to for a few hours before Afghan reinforcements arrived. Nasrat Rahimi, deputy spokesman for the Interior Ministry, says that along with the eight killed in the assault, 10 security forces were wounded in the morning attack.

BEIJING (AP) — Orville Schell, a longtime China expert, has vivid memories of his first trip to the country back in 1975. Mao Zedong was leading China through the tumultuous Cultural Revolution, and Chinese were being shamed, beaten and even killed for perceived political mistakes. Things were vastly different when he returned four years later. Mao was dead, and the country was pulling itself together under reformist Deng Xiaoping. So radical was the transformation that some Chinese felt emboldened enough to plaster posters on a wall in central Beijing criticizing past excesses and advocating democracy. "China had suddenly gone from being this implacable enemy that was closed to any contact to being quite open and receptive to interacting," recalled Schell, now the director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations at the New York-based Asia Society.

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan swore in newly-elected members of the Senate on Monday, including for the first time a woman from the country's marginalized Hindu minority, as allegations swirled that others had bribed their way to becoming lawmakers. The scandals cast no shadow on a smiling Krishna Kumari, who hails from the so-called untouchables — the lowest in the caste system still prevailing in Pakistan and India. Kumari was elected from the southern Sindh province in a vote that also saw a Taliban-linked cleric defeated in the northwest despite backing by moderate parties. Kumari was warmly welcomed by the chamber's predominantly Muslims lawmakers as she entered the Senate for the first time Monday, making history.