Top Asian News 2:56 a.m. GMT

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Political leaders continued frenetic 11th-hour campaigning as Australians vote on Saturday in an election likely to deliver the nation's sixth prime minister in as many years. Opinion polls suggest the conservative Liberal Party-led coalition will lose its bid for a third three-year term and Scott Morrison will have had one of the shortest tenures as prime minister in the 118-year history of the Australian federation. Morrison is the conservatives' third prime minister since they were first elected in 2013. He replaced Malcolm Turnbull in a leadership ballot of government colleagues in August. Morrison began the day campaigning in the island state of Tasmania in seats he hopes his party will win from the center-left Labor Party opposition.

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — More than 16 million Australians are eligible to vote at elections on Saturday that are likely to deliver Australia's eighth prime minister in 12 years. Opinion polls suggest conservative Prime Minister Scott Morrison will have one of the shortest tenures of the 29 men and one woman who have served in the post since 1901. He was only installed in August by government colleagues who had lost confidence in his predecessor Malcolm Turnbull. His rival Bill Shorten is one of the longest serving opposition leaders in Australian history, having led the center-left Labor Party since it was last voted out of office in 2013.

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — A former CIA officer was sentenced Friday to 20 years in prison on charges that he spied for China and allegations he sought to expose human assets who were once his responsibility. The sentence issued by U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III in federal court in Alexandria for Kevin Mallory, 62, of Leesburg, Virginia, is less than the life sentence sought by prosecutors but more than the 10-year term requested by the defense. A jury convicted Mallory last year under the Espionage Act for providing classified information to Chinese handlers in exchange for $25,000. Mallory's scheme began to unravel when he was selected for secondary screening at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport in April 2017 on a flight back from Shanghai with his son and customs agents found $16,500 in unreported cash.

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Gay couples in Taiwan plan a mass wedding registration after lawmakers voted to legalize same-sex marriage, a first in Asia and a boost for LGBT rights activists who had championed the cause for two decades. Legislators pressured by LGBT groups as well as by church organizations opposed to the move on Friday approved most of a government-sponsored bill that recognizes same-sex marriages and gives couples many of the tax, insurance and child custody benefits available to male-female married couples. That makes Taiwan the first place in Asia with a comprehensive law both allowing and laying out the terms of same-sex marriage.

BEIJING (AP) — Iran's foreign minister praised his country's relations with China during talks with his Chinese counterpart in Beijing amid heightened tensions and efforts by Tehran to keep its world markets open following the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal. Mohammad Javad Zarif met Frriday with Wang Yi, whose country has been a major customer for Iranian oil, at the Diaoyutai state guesthouse. "We consider (China) one of our closest partners in the world," Zarif said in opening remarks at the start of the meeting. Iran wishes to cooperate with China "bilaterally and multilaterally, in order to preserve the interests of our two peoples ...

KOLKATA, India (AP) — Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken his ruling party's fight to the state of West Bengal, where it hopes to retain a majority in staggered general elections concluding this week by diluting the strength of a formidable opponent, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. The battle pitting the Bharatiya Janata Party's Hindu nationalism against Banerjee's Trinamool Congress Party's big-tent politics has come to a head in the state, which stretches from the Himalayas in the north to the Bay of Bengal in the south and shares a language and border with Muslim-majority Bangladesh. That border is another battleground: the BJP has backed a bill that would make it easier to deport millions of Bangladeshis who migrated to India since Bangladesh's 1971 independence while easing a path to citizenship for Hindus, Sikhs, Parsees and Jains — conspicuously non-Muslim — who arrived from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — The policy differences between the two major political parties vying for power at Australian elections on Saturday have been described as the widest divide at a federal contest in 26 years. The center-left opposition Labor Party is regarded as pursuing a "big target strategy" with a diverse range of policies aimed at creating a more equitable society under the slogan "A Fair Go for Australia." To give someone "a fair go" is an Australian colloquialism for providing justice. The conservative Liberal Party-led coalition government is promising a steady course in uncertain times under the banner "Building Our Economy, Securing Your Future." The government warns voters that Australia's slowing economy would be damaged by Labor's ambitious agenda.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea has decided to allow its businesspeople to visit their factories at an industrial park in North Korea that was shut down by Seoul's previous conservative government in 2016 following a North Korean nuclear test. The announcement on Friday came as South Korea desperately seeks to keep alive a momentum for inter-Korean engagement, which has tapered off following the collapse of a high-stakes nuclear summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump in February over mismatched demands in sanctions relief and disarmament. Kim has since aired his displeasure with short-range missile tests apparently aimed at pressuring Washington and Seoul, and declared that the Trump administration has until the end of the year to come up with mutually acceptable terms for a deal to salvage the negotiations.

BEIJING (AP) — The legacy of American architect I.M. Pei stretches from west to east, from the Louvre museum to his native China, where he helped fuse tradition and modernity as the country opened up after the Cultural Revolution. Pei, who died earlier this week at the age of 102, added elegance to landscapes worldwide with powerful geometric shapes and grand spaces, from a trapezoidal addition to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., to the giant glass pyramid at the Louvre. Born in southern China, he migrated to the United States and was one of the first overseas architects to visit China during its initial period of opening up, said Tan Xin, a garden designer who worked with him in the early 1980s on the Fragrant Hill Hotel, which still stands on the outskirts of Beijing.

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia's prime minister said on Friday that two Rwandan refugees who resettled in Australia after 15 years in U.S. detention are no longer suspects in the massacre of eight tourists in Uganda 20 years ago. U.S. news outlet Politico reported that former Hutu rebels Leonidas Bimenyimana and Gregoire Nyaminani spent more than a decade in a Virginia state jail before Australia accepted them last year. The transfer was part of a refugee swap deal in which the United States agreed to resettle up to 1,250 refugees who Australia banishes to immigration camps on the poor Pacific island nations of Papua New Guinea and Nauru.