Top Asian News 4:19 a.m. GMT

The United States and China have reached agreement on a U.N. resolution that would impose tougher sanctions on North Korea as punishment for its latest nuclear test and rocket launch, U.N. diplomats said Wednesday. One Security Council diplomat called the draft resolution "significantly substantive" and expressed hope that it will be adopted in the coming days. Another said the draft had been circulated on Wednesday to the three other permanent council members - Russia, Britain and France. The Security Council is scheduled to hold closed consultations Thursday afternoon on compliance with the North Korean sanctions resolutions, and the U.S.-China draft could be discussed then with the 10 non-permanent council members.

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) - Australia's prime minister says his country will bolster its naval strength with more submarines and warships as part of a long-term military buildup needed to maintain peace in the Asia-Pacific region. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Thursday that Australia plans to double the size of its submarine fleet to 12 as well as commissioning three additional air warfare destroyers, nine anti-submarine frigates and 12 patrol boats. The naval increase is at the center of a planned 20-year military buildup to deal with future threats, including tensions in the South China Sea where China, Australia's most important trade partner, is aggressively staking territorial claims.

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) - Fijians in remote places were being urged Thursday to immediately bury loved ones who died in a powerful cyclone rather than waiting for autopsies. Government spokesman Ewan Perrin said that many remote islands and isolated communities still do not have electricity or refrigeration, and so the government is asking people to bury the dead in the interests of public health and safety. The death toll from Cyclone Winston remained at 42 Thursday with at least four others still missing. The cyclone tore through the Pacific Island chain last weekend with winds that reached 177 miles (285 kilometers) per hour, making it the strongest storm in Fiji's recorded history.

TRACH, Cambodia (AP) _ It's been a busy morning for Cletus, Meynard, Victoria and others of their furry band. Tiny noses and long whiskers twitching, they've scurried and sniffed their way across 775 square meters (8,300 square feet) of fields to eliminate a scourge that has killed thousands of Cambodians: land mines. Meet the Hero Rats: intelligent, surprisingly adorable creatures with some of the most sensitive noses in the animal kingdom. Sent from Africa, where they successfully cleared minefields in Mozambique and Angola, they began the same task in northwestern Cambodia early this month and have already scored tangible results.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - North Korea's description of South Korea's president as an "old, insane bitch" destined for violent death may take the rivals' hateful propaganda battle to a new level of hostility, which is saying something for neighbors with such a long, bloody history of hating each other's guts. The North called President Park Geun-hye's predecessors traitors and even rat-like, but the invectives it throws at the South's first female president tend to be uglier, often casting her relationship with her American allies in crude sexual terms. Carved in two by the Soviets and Americans at the end of WWII, the halves of the Korean Peninsula fought a vicious war in the early 1950s, and have spent much of the years since then promising, and sometimes trying very hard to engineer, each other's destruction.

KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) - Rescuers found the wreckage of a small plane carrying 23 people that crashed in bad weather Wednesday into a mountain in central Nepal, police said. All those aboard, including two foreigners, were confirmed dead. Police official Harihari Yogi said the wreckage of the plane, which was on a scheduled 18-minute flight, was still burning and all the bodies were charred. He said the aircraft appeared to have flown directly into the mountain. The foreigners were from China and Kuwait. All others on the plane were Nepali citizens, including two children. The Twin Otter aircraft operated by domestic Tara airlines had taken off from Pokhara, a resort town 200 kilometers (125 miles) west of Kathmandu, and was heading north to Jomsom, the starting point for trekkers going into mountainous areas.

Source: Yahoo

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