Top Asian News 4:45 a.m. GMT

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea's President Moon Jae-in urged North Korea to take firmer disarmament measures and the U.S. to reward them, suggesting Thursday he'll push for sanction exemptions to restart dormant economic cooperation projects with the North. Some experts say the sanctions relief, if pursued before South Korea's ally Washington is ready, could weaken ties with the United States and complicate efforts to rid the North of its nuclear weapons. But others say Moon simply made a symbolic, conciliatory gesture toward North Korea. Moon spoke only days after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said in a New Year's Day address that he was ready to resume the two major stalled inter-Korean projects.

A U.S. company that stocks college bookstores with t-shirts and other team apparel has cut ties with a Chinese company that drew workers from an internment camp. Badger Sportswear said in a statement Wednesday that it will no longer work with Hetian Taida Apparel, nor source any goods from the far west Xinjiang region "given the controversy around doing business" there. Last month an Associated Press investigation found the Chinese government had started to force some members of Muslim minority groups to work in manufacturing and food industries. The investigation tracked recent, ongoing shipments from a Hetian Taida factory inside an internment camp to Badger, a leading supplier in Statesville, North Carolina.

SYDNEY (AP) — Four women held a topless protest in Sydney on Thursday to support runaway Saudi woman Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun, as Australia began considering her bid to settle in the country as a refugee. Alqunun was on Wednesday deemed a refugee by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, after being detained in Bangkok en route to Australia. The 18-year-old publicized her case via social media after barricading herself in her Bangkok hotel room, saying she feared for her safety if sent back to her family in Saudi Arabia. In downtown Sydney on Thursday morning, four women, dressed only in jeans and calling themselves the Secret Sisterhood, protested outside the building housing the Saudi Consulate, calling on Australia to grant Alqunun residency.

SYDNEY (AP) — Australian police arrested a man after 38 suspicious packages containing a possibly hazardous substance were sent to foreign consulates in the Australian cities of Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney. The 48-year-old was arrested at his home in Shepparton, Victoria state, on Wednesday night, and charged with sending dangerous articles to be carried by a postal service, police said. He was due to appear in Melbourne Magistrates Court later on Thursday. Around 10 diplomatic missions, mostly in Melbourne, on Wednesday reported the delivery of suspicious packages, some of them labelled "asbestos." The missions included those from the United States, Britain, India, South Korea, Pakistan, Israel, Switzerland and Greece.

TORONTO (AP) — China's ambassador to Canada accused the country Wednesday of "white supremacy" in calling for the release of two Canadians detained in China last month, while describing the detentions as an "act of self-defense." The arrests were in apparent retaliation for the arrest of a top Chinese tech executive in Canada. But Ambassador Lu Shaye's charged in op-ed in the Ottawa-based Hill Times that Western countries are employing a "double standard" in demanding the immediate release of the Canadians. "The reason why some people are used to arrogantly adopting double standards is due to Western egotism and white supremacy," Lu writes.

BEIJING (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has reportedly told the leader of his only major ally, China, that he wants to "achieve results" on the nuclear standoff on the Korean Peninsula in a second summit with President Donald Trump. The comments, contained in reports Thursday from Chinese and North Korean state media, came a day after Kim left Beijing on his special armored train for Pyongyang after a two-day visit to the Chinese capital. Kim's trip to China — his fourth in the past 10 months — is believed to be an effort to coordinate with Beijing ahead of a possible second summit with Trump.

TOKYO (AP) — The appeal by the lawyers of Carlos Ghosn, Nissan's former chairman, against his prolonged detention since his arrest Nov. 19 was rejected Wednesday by the Tokyo District Court. Ghosn's lawyers filed the appeal a day earlier. Ghosn's detention on suspicion of breach of trust had been approved through Friday. It is unclear what the prosecutors might do next. They can tag on additional allegations and "rearrest" a suspect or might decide to file formal charges on the breach of trust allegations. The lawyers and Ghosn argued in court Tuesday against the detention. In his first public appearance since his arrest, Ghosn vigorously asserted his innocence and defended himself against each allegation.

NEW DELHI (AP) — India's Parliament on Wednesday approved a bill providing a 10 percent quota in government jobs for the poor members of upper castes who have been excluded from existing quotas for low-ranking castes. The Congress party and other opposition parties supported the legislation, but criticized Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government for getting it approved just months before the national elections, in an effort the opposition claimed was aimed at winning votes. The Modi government surprised the opposition by unexpectedly moving the bill in the lower house of Parliament on Tuesday and getting it approved. The upper house adopted it by sitting late into night on Wednesday during the final day of the current parliamentary session.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Three days of U.S.-Chinese talks aimed at ending a costly tariff battle wrapped up Wednesday in an optimistic atmosphere, with President Donald Trump saying they were "going very well!" A statement from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative did not characterize the tone of the talks or say what would happen next, noting only that the U.S. delegation would await "guidance on the next steps" after reporting back to Washington The U.S. statement said the negotiations dealt with the need for any deal with China to be "subject to ongoing verification and effective enforcement" — a comment that reflects U.S.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A South Korean court said Wednesday it has ordered the seizure of local assets of a Japanese company after it refused to compensate several wartime forced laborers, in an escalation of a diplomatic brawl between the Asian neighbors. Japan called the decision "extremely regrettable" and said it will push for talks with Seoul on the issue. In a landmark ruling in October, South Korea's Supreme Court ordered Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp. to pay 100 million won ($88,000) each to four plaintiffs forced to work for the company when Japan colonized the Korean Peninsula in 1910-45.