Top Asian News 4:54 a.m. GMT

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea's human rights commission plans to interview possibly thousands of athletes about a culture of abuse in sports after a wave of female athletes came forward to say they had been raped or assaulted by their coaches. The yearlong investigation will cover 50 sports and include children competing for elementary, middle and high schools, Park Hong-geun, an official from the National Human Rights Commission, said Wednesday. He said the commission aims to interview all minor and adult athletes competing for scholastic and corporate league teams in speedskating and judo, which have been marred with sexual abuse allegations.

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — After stripping Malaysia's royal families of some of their powers during his 22-year stint as prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad almost didn't make it to the premiership a second time. Though largely a ceremonial post, Malaysia's monarch still signs off on most laws and appointments, including the prime minister, and hours after Mahathir and his alliance's stunning general election victory last May, King Sultan Muhammad V offered the job to someone else. The offer was rejected and Mahathir heaped pressure on the king by holding a series of news conferences. The king subsequently signed off on Mahathir, but the hours of uncertainty put the spotlight on Malaysia's monarchy at a time when some of the royals are seeking to reassert their influence in politics.

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — The Australian government said on Wednesday it is seeking information about a Chinese-Australian writer who has been reported missing in China. Novelist and influential online commentator Yang Hengjun was a Chinese diplomat before he became an Australian citizen. Friends say he been living in the United States with his wife and her child and had returned to China late last week. Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in a statement it was "seeking information about an Australian citizen who has been reported missing in China. Owing to our privacy obligations we will not provide further comment." Australian consular assistance can include liaising with local authorities, including local police where an Australian has been reported missing.

BEIJING (AP) — The Chinese model in widely derided advertisements for Italian fashion line Dolce & Gabbana has apologized for her appearance in the campaign. Zuo Ye said on her Weibo microblog that as a recent college graduate, she hadn't had time to consider the effect of the ads, in which she was filmed trying to eat pizza, spaghetti and a giant version of a cannoli pastry using chopsticks. "I will grow from this experience and will better display the character of a Chinese citizen," Zuo wrote in the posting dated Monday. Following the criticism of the ads, the Milan designers canceled a Shanghai runway show last year meant as a tribute to China, as their guest list of Asian celebrities joined protests.

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Dozens of people killed in a brazen Taliban attack on a military base were members of Afghanistan's intelligence agency, officials said Tuesday, in a severe blow to the government that already has lost control of nearly half of the country to the insurgents. At least 45 people were killed and as many as 70 were wounded by a suicide bomber who drove an armored Humvee packed with explosives at the base in eastern Maidan Wardak province on Monday, the officials said. There were fears the death toll from the daytime assault could increase. The base, which also serves as a training center for pro-government militias, is run by Afghanistan's intelligence service known as the National Directorate for Security, or NDS.

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia's president said Tuesday that an elderly Islamic cleric who inspired the Bali bombers and other extremists won't be released from prison unless he renounces radicalism, backing down from plans to free him without conditions. President Joko Widodo said Abu Bakar Bashir, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2011, must fulfil conditions such as loyalty to the state and the national ideology to be eligible for release. Bashir, 80, insists he is only answerable to God and that Indonesia should be governed by Islamic rather than civil law. "Abu Bakar Bashir is already old and his health is also deteriorating.

BANGKOK (AP) _ DNA tests show that two bodies found washed up on the shore of the Mekong River in Thailand's northeast are the corpses of anti-government activists, police said Tuesday, in what are feared to be political killings. The two, known by the pseudonyms Puchana and Kasalong, were among three exiled activists who disappeared in December from homes in Laos, where they took shelter after fleeing Thailand. There is a group of Thai exiles in Laos associated with the anti-military Red Shirt movement that staged aggressive street protests in Bangkok in 2010 that were violently crushed by the military.

GAUHATI,India (AP) — Police in northeastern India have arrested 61 Rohingya Muslims this week for illegal entry, officials said Tuesday, amid reports that more than 1,300 have recently crossed the border from India into Bangladesh. In Assam state, police said they arrested 30 Rohingya, including 12 children, who were found traveling on a bus Monday night to Gauhati, the state capital. In neighboring Tripura state, police said they arrested 31 Rohingya on Tuesday after they spent two days in the open in a no man's land along the border with Bangladesh. The Rohingya had been stranded there after both Bangladeshi and Indian border guards refused to let them enter their territories.

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Talks between American, South Korean and North Korean diplomats in Sweden — considered a preparation for an upcoming U.S.-Korea summit, have ended, an official with the independent think tank that co-hosted the meeting said Tuesday. Stephanie Blenckner of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, or SIPRI, that focuses on research on conflicts, armaments and arms control, said the talks ended Monday evening. She gave no details. Blenckner said Tuesday SIPRI "found the meeting constructive." Talks focused on the security situation on the Korean Peninsula and "confidence-building" relations, Foreign Ministry spokesman Erik Karlsson said, declining to elaborate. Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom said Monday experts in nuclear disarmament, economic development and regional security attended the diplomats' meeting in Sweden.

LONDON (AP) — Five movies about individuals and families confronting social and historical tumult are competing in the Academy Awards' race for best foreign-language film. Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron's autobiographical masterpiece "Roma" and Polish filmmaker Pawel Pawlikowski's 20th-century romance "Cold War" were among contenders announced Tuesday. They are up against German director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's artist biopic "Never Look Away," Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda's's subtle family story "Shoplifters" and "Capernaum," a powerful neo-realist drama about a Syrian child refugee from Lebanon's Nadine Labaki. The winner will be announced at the 91st Academy Awards ceremony on Feb. 24. "Roma" received 10 nominations in all, making it the Oscars front-runner alongside Yorgos Lanthimos' pungent period drama "The Favourite." Cuaron's black-and-white film is up for trophies including best director and best picture.