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Associated Press

SUVA, Fiji (AP) — Fiji confirmed Thursday that soldiers shown in a new video posted online are its 45 United Nations peacekeepers being held captive in Syria. The 15-minute video shows two men speaking in Arabic with the Fijian troops sitting cross-legged in the background. Near the end of the video, one of the Fijian soldiers speaks in English. He says the date is Sept. 9 and it's a "very happy day."

BEIJING (AP) — Vietnam has nearly doubled its military spending, Japan is requesting its biggest-ever defense budget and the Philippines is rushing to piece together a viable navy. Several Asian nations are arming up, their wary eyes fixed squarely on one country: a resurgent China that's boldly asserting its territorial claims all along the East Asian coast.

BANGKOK (AP) — An international human rights group on Thursday called on Thailand's ruling military to end what it says is a "disturbing pattern of repression" in the country since the army seized power in a May coup. Amnesty International made the appeal in a new report, saying it has received credible reports that detainees have been tortured. The military has denied such allegations. Junta spokesmen did not immediately respond to phone calls for comment.

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Officials say Pakistani troops with helicopters and boats have evacuated another 4,000 marooned people from the country's plains where raging monsoon floods inundated more villages early Thursday. In a statement, the military said it has expanded relief operations in flood-hit areas in the eastern Punjab province where the overflowing Chenab river is causing damage.

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The candidate most likely to be named the next president of Afghanistan said Wednesday that he believes in a government of national unity and will seek to include his political opponent even if doing so requires negotiations after his swearing-in. The questions that candidate Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai faced from journalists indicated that most people in the country, including Ghani Ahmadzai himself, assume he will be named the winner. His opponent, Abdullah Abdullah, conceded as much this week when he said he would not accept the "fraudulent" results expected to be announced by the election commission.

BEIJING (AP) — A scheduled trial for a Chinese human rights activist may not proceed on Friday, after his lawyers said they would not attend the court proceedings because authorities did not let them copy court files crucial to the case. Lawyer Chen Guangwu said Thursday that he and colleague Zhang Xuezhong are not prepared to mount an effective defense for Yang Maodong. The district court in the southern city of Guangzhou banned them from copying docket files including videos and photos related to Yang's arrest on suspicion of assembling crowds to disrupt public order, Chen said.

BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — The suspected brother of a suicide bomber killed in Syria and another alleged jihadist appeared in an Australian court on Thursday charged with funding and recruiting for al-Qaida offshoot terrorists in the Middle East. Omar Succarieh, 31, and Agim Kruezi, 21, appeared briefly in a Brisbane city Magistrates Court for the first since they were arrested Wednesday in a series of police raids in Brisbane and neighboring Logan that culminated a yearlong counterterrorism investigation.

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The president of the overwhelmingly Catholic Philippines proposed Wednesday to give Muslims in the south the ability to run their own government under their own flag, part of a peace plan aimed at ending a four-decade rebellion that has killed 150,000 people. The draft law submitted by President Benigno Aquino III to Congress fleshes out a peace deal signed in March by the country's largest Muslim insurgent group, the 11,000-strong Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

SUVA, Fiji (AP) — Fiji on Wednesday may have jumped the gun by announcing that its 45 United Nations peacekeepers who are being held captive by Syrian insurgents would be freed soon. The South Pacific nation later tried to retract the comments, but by then they had been reported around the world.

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistani warplanes struck five militant hideouts in a Taliban stronghold near the Afghan border on Wednesday, killing 65 insurgents, the military said. The strikes, carried out in two phases hours apart, targeted areas in the North Waziristan tribal region, where the military has been conducting a major offensive since mid-June, the army said in a statement.

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — An Australian hospital was treating a patient who returned last month from the Democratic Republic of Congo as a suspected Ebola case on Thursday, although a doctor said the man was unlikely to have the deadly disease. The 27-year-old man had been isolated and was being tested after arriving by ambulance at the Gold Coast University Hospital in Queensland state with "an acute illness" on Thursday morning, the hospital's Director of Infectious Diseases John Gerrard said.

SYDNEY (AP) — The owner of a New Zealand tourist lodge has been charged with drugging and sexually assaulting 16 guests, most of whom were from overseas, police said Wednesday. Michael Harris, 56, who owns the Main Street Lodge in the North Island town of Kaitaia, was charged with 39 offenses against 16 men, including indecent assault, aggravated wounding related to allegedly drugging the men and making intimate visual recordings, police said in a statement.

TOKYO (AP) — A nuclear power plant in southern Japan won regulators' approval Wednesday under new safety standards imposed after the 2011 Fukushima disaster, a key step toward becoming the first to restart under the tighter rules. The Nuclear Regulation Authority unanimously approved an inspection report for the Sendai Nuclear Power Station's two reactors. It concluded that the reactors complied with new regulations designed to avoid major damage during disasters such as the massive earthquake and tsunami that caused meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant.

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — In Asia's bastion of Roman Catholic faith, images of Pope Francis are getting the pop star treatment. A church-run radio station in the Philippines is distributing life-size cardboard cutouts of the pope to generate "papal fever" among selfie-loving Filipinos before the pope's visit in January.

In this photo by Achmad Ibrahim, two workers sleep on a raft at Jakarta's Sunda Kelapa port, which was built more than 450 years ago during Indonesia's years as a Portuguese colony. The port, also called Pasar Ikan or "fish market," is a minor port today but was key to Jakarta's development as a city. Today it attracts tourists who come to see the traditional seafaring vessels at anchor, visit the fish market or tour the area by canoe. While large ports often have shift workers and on-site management, the labor at small ports like Sunda Kelapa is commonly done by independent workers, who can set their own hours and sleep on the site as needed.

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