Top Asian News 2:53 a.m. GMT

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — In the final moves of Indonesia's presidential campaign, one candidate dashed to Saudi Arabia to meet its king and perform a minor pilgrimage. The other attended a feline photography exhibition and giggled with delight at a giant photo of his own pet cat. For the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation, the message intended by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's trip to the birthplace of Islam was obvious after a campaign in which conservative opponents tried to discredit him as insufficiently Islamic. What his challenger for a second time, former special forces general Prabowo Subianto, meant was less apparent.

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia's presidential election Wednesday pits incumbent Joko Widodo against former special forces Gen. Prabowo Subianto in a repeat of the 2014 contest. Widodo, a furniture exporter and heavy metal fan who had a meteoric rise in Indonesian politics, chose a conservative Muslim cleric as his vice presidential candidate. Subianto's running mate is a self-made tycoon. A look at the presidential and vice presidential candidates: ___ JOKO WIDODO Usually known as Jokowi, Widodo began his political career in the central Javanese city of Solo and hit the big time when he became governor of Jakarta, Indonesia's capital, in 2012.

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Nearly 193 million Indonesians are eligible to vote in presidential and legislative elections on Wednesday. President Joko Widodo, the first Indonesian president from outside the Jakarta elite, is competing against Prabowo Subianto, a former special forces general from the era of authoritarian rule under military dictator Suharto. Some election facts and figures: ___ BY THE NUMBERS The election is a huge logistical exercise costing about 27.6 trillion rupiah ($1.9 billion). Indonesians are casting votes not only for president but about 20,500 other candidates standing for the Senate and legislatures at the national, provincial and district levels. Election officials are providing more than 1.6 million bottles of halal-certified indelible ink for voters to dip a finger in after casting ballots at some 810,000 polling stations.

TOKYO (AP) — The operator of the tsunami-wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant began removing fuel Monday from a cooling pool at one of three reactors that melted down in the 2011 disaster, a milestone in what will be a decades-long process to decommission the facility. Tokyo Electric Power Co. said workers started removing the first of 566 used and unused fuel units stored in the pool at Unit 3. The fuel units in the pool located high up in reactor buildings are intact despite the disaster, but the pools are not enclosed, so removing the units to safer ground is crucial to avoid disaster in case of another major earthquake similar to the one that caused the 2011 tsunami.

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand's foreign minister confirmed Monday that a New Zealand nurse has been held captive by the Islamic State group in Syria for almost six years, information long kept secret for fear her life might be at risk. The status of nurse and midwife Louisa Akavi, now 62, is unknown, but her employer, the International Committee of the Red Cross, says it has received recent eyewitness reports suggesting she might be alive. The New York Times on Sunday became the first media organization to name Akavi, ending a more than 5 ½-year news blackout imposed by New Zealand's government and the Red Cross with the cooperation of international media.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Monday he's ready for a fourth summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to help salvage faltering nuclear negotiations between the North and the United States. Moon's comments came after Kim issued his harshest criticism yet of South Korea's diplomatic role last week, accusing Seoul of acting like an "overstepping mediator" and demanding that it diverge from Washington to support the North's position more strongly. Moon met Kim three times last year and also brokered nuclear talks between North Korea and the U.S. following tensions created by the North's nuclear and missile tests and the exchange of war threats by Kim and President Donald Trump.

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Six people appeared in a New Zealand court Monday on charges they illegally redistributed the video a gunman livestreamed as he shot worshippers at two mosques last month. Christchurch District Court Judge Stephen O'Driscoll denied bail to businessman Philip Arps and an 18-year-old suspect who both were taken into custody in March. The four others are not in custody. The charge of supplying or distributing objectionable material carries a penalty of up to 14 years imprisonment. Arps, 44, is scheduled to next appear in court via video link on April 26. The 18-year-old suspect is charged with sharing the livestream video and a still image of the Al Noor mosque with the words "target acquired." He will reappear in court on July 31 when electronically monitored bail will be considered.

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysia's prime minister said Monday a Chinese company building a rail link across the Southeast Asian nation will jointly help to manage and operate the network, part of revised deal that will get the stalled project off the ground at a lower cost and ease strained relations. The East Coast Rail Link across peninsular Malaysia was suspended after Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's alliance swept into power last May and said it would review large-scale infrastructure projects to rein in surging national debt that it blamed mostly on corruption in the previous government. Canceling the project risked alienating China, Malaysia's largest trading partner, which considered the railway connecting Malaysia's west coast to eastern rural states a key part of its Belt and Road infrastructure initiative.

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — A federal judge denied bail Monday for a Chinese woman charged with lying to illegally enter President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago club, saying her actions and statements suggest "she was up to something nefarious" and there is an "extreme risk of flight" if she were released. Federal Magistrate Judge William Matthewman issued the ruling for 33-year-old Yujing Zhang, who pleaded not guilty Monday to charges of lying to federal agents and illegal entering of a restricted area. Zhang faces up to five years if convicted. Prosecutors did back away from their previous contention that Zhang was carrying a computer thumb drive containing malware, saying further tests have put that in doubt.

BEIJING (AP) — Beijing fired back at the U.S. on Monday after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo criticized China's role in Venezuela as prolonging the crisis there. Pompeo's accusations were "unfounded" and "deliberately drove a wedge" between China and Latin America, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said at a regular briefing. "For a long time, the United States has regarded Latin America as its own backyard to pressure, threaten and even subvert political power in other countries at every turn," Lu said, adding that "some American politicians have been harping on one string" in order to "smear China across the world." Pompeo said last Friday that China's financing of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government helped "precipitate and prolong" the country's crisis.