Xinhua Asia-Pacific News Summary at 1000 GMT, Jan. 3

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MANILA -- The death toll in heavy rains that triggered landslides and flash flooding in the Philippines has risen to 122, a government disaster agency said on Thursday.

The Philippine National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said that 37 new deaths were reported in connection with the recent tropical depression, bringing the death toll to 122 people. (The Philippines-Death-Rain)

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TOKYO -- An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.0 struck Japan's Kumamoto Prefecture, in the central part of Japan's southwestern Kyushu island, on Thursday, the weather agency here said.

According to the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), the temblor, which occurred at 6:10 p.m. local time, was centered inland, with its epicenter at a latitude of 33.0 degrees north and a longitude of 130.6 degrees east, and at depth of 10 km. (Japan-Earthquake)

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SEOUL -- The letter by Kim Jong Un, top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), to U.S. President Donald Trump will play a positive role in denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula and building lasting peace, South Korea's presidential Blue House said Thursday.

Kim Eui-keum, the Blue House spokesman, told a press briefing that Kim's autograph letter to Trump was anticipated to play a positive role in the peninsula's complete denuclearization and the settlement of permanent peace. (South Korea-DPRK-U.S.-Letter)

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KABUL -- The Afghan Independent Elections Commission (IEC) announced a new timeline for candidates' registration of the country's fourth presidential elections, a statement from the entity said on Thursday.

The announcement came as the IEC slated July 20 over the weekend as a news date for the polls which previously set to be held on April 20, citing some reasons and present issues at the IEC for holding the polls on time. (Afghanistan-Election)

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BATU GAJAH, Malaysia -- Malaysia welcomes Chinese companies to bring in expertise and investment as the Southeast Asian country seeks to become a regional railway manufacturing hub, Malaysian Transport Minister Anthony Loke Siew Fook said here Thursday.

Speaking during a site visit to the rolling stock center of Chinese locomotives manufacturer CRRC in Malaysia, Loke said he hoped the close cooperation between the two countries would help Malaysia realize this aim. (Malaysia-China-Railway) Enditem

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