Top Asian News 4:49 a.m. GMT

KUTUPALONG, Bangladesh (AP) — Abul Kalam sits cross-legged on the floor of his tiny mud hut and whispers prayers into a small plastic bottle filled with water, creating what he says is a potion that will cure stomach cramps. "I got these powers in my dreams," he says. "People come to me because I heal them." Kalam is a boidu, or faith healer, and for decades has been treating fellow Rohingya Muslims, first in Myanmar's northern Rakhine state and now in a squalid camp in Bangladesh, where 700,000 Rohingya took refuge last year after escaping a campaign of government violence at home.

TOKYO (AP) — U.S. Vice President Mike Pence met Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday to discuss bilateral trade and to touch base on their policies on North Korea as the two sides tried to showcase alliance ahead of key regional summits this week. Pence told Abe as their talks started that he planned to follow up on bilateral free trade talks that Abe and President Donald Trump agreed in September. The trade talks are expected to begin early next year. Japan has faced demands that it reduce its trade surplus with the U.S. and is also concerned about the impact of Trump's trade war with China.

TOKYO (AP) — Karen Pence, the vice president's wife, announced Tuesday a $54,000 U.S. grant to Tsukuba University in Japan for studying art therapy, a little-known mental health profession she has championed under the Trump administration. Pence was in Japan while accompanying her husband, Mike Pence, on a trip through Asia for a series of meetings, including a Southeast Asian summit in Singapore and an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Papua New Guinea. Karen Pence declined to answer questions during an interview with The Associated Press about opposition in Japan to the presence of the U.S. military and about the recent U.S.

SINGAPORE (AP) — The potential damage to global trade brought on by President Donald Trump's tariffs battle with Beijing is looming as leaders of Southeast Asian nations, China, the U.S. and other regional economies meet in Singapore this week. Countries across the region, many of which have relied heavily on trade to grow their economies, are responding with strong talk about free trade. It's unclear if this week's summit meetings of the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations will yield progress on a new trade pact that would commit member countries and others in the Asian-Pacific region to opening markets further.

BEIJING (AP) — China is postponing its decision to allow trading in tiger and rhinoceros parts a bare two weeks after the easing of the ban had raised fears the country was giving legal cover to poaching and smuggling of endangered wildlife. The official Xinhua News Agency quoted Cabinet official Ding Xuedong as saying Monday that the change had "been postponed after study." "Relevant departments of the Chinese government will soon continue to organize special crackdown campaigns with focus on addressing the illegal trade of rhinos, tigers and their byproducts. Illegal acts will be dealt with severely," Ding, an executive deputy secretary-general of the State Council was quoted as saying.

NEW DELHI (AP) — Sri Lanka is in the midst of a political crisis set off by the president's decisions to remove the South Asian island nation's prime minister, dissolve Parliament and call snap elections. The moves have triggered public protests and international criticism, including from some of the country's biggest donors. A look at the key players and moments in the ongoing saga: ___ A POLITICAL RIVALRY REIGNITES The crisis centers around three main characters: President Maithripala Sirisena, ousted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, and former strongman President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was recently appointed prime minister by Sirisena. Sirisena and Wickremesinghe are ideological opponents who formed a coalition to defeat Rajapaksa in 2015 elections.

SINGAPORE (AP) — The United Nations refugee agency on Monday cautioned against returning ethnic Rohingya Muslims to Myanmar from Bangladesh at this time, urging that officials be allowed to assess whether it is safe for them to return. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees issued the warning after the Myanmar government said Sunday that this week it would begin repatriating the more than 700,000 Rohingya who have fled from the Rakhine state in western Myanmar to Bangladesh to escape deadly violence carried out by Myanmar security forces. "Myanmar authorities should allow these refugees to undertake such go-and-see visits without prejudice to their right to return at a later date, if indeed the refugees decide after the visits that the current conditions in Rakhine State would not allow them to return in safety and dignity," the UNHCR said in a statement.

ISLAMABAD (AP) — The Pakistani government, already struggling with a crisis surrounding a Christian woman acquitted of blasphemy charges after eight years on death row, now has to deal with "fake" images on social media purporting to show her outside the country. The deceptive images have prompted death threats to a lawmaker shown in one photograph, and are likely intended to whip up radical religious fervor over Aasia Bibi's case. It's unclear who is behind the circulation of the images. Radical Islamists have held mass protests and demanded that she be publicly executed. They've also filed a petition to repeal her Supreme Court acquittal.

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A suicide bomber struck near an anti-Taliban rally in Kabul on Monday, killing at least four people, officials said, as a lawmaker reported that insurgents killed at least 20 Afghan policemen over the past 24 hours in eastern Ghazni province. According to Basir Mujahid, spokesman for the Kabul police chief, the bomber was on foot and detonated his vest full of explosive after he was spotted by police. Hours later, the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack, which took place about 500 meters (yards) from where hundreds of minority Shiites had gathered to denounce the latest Taliban attacks in Ghazni districts of Jaghuri and Malistan.

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan released two Taliban officials on Monday during U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad's latest visit to the region, in what could be part of American efforts to revive peace talks with the insurgent group, which now controls nearly half of Afghanistan. Abdul Samad Sani, a U.S.-designated terrorist who served as the Afghan Central Bank governor during the militants' rule in the late 1990s, and a lower-ranking commander named Salahuddin, were released Monday, according to two Taliban officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief media. There was no immediate comment from the Pakistani government.