Xinhua Asia-Pacific news summary at 1000 GMT, March 29

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MANILA -- The Philippine National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) urged all concerned agencies on Friday to take "a holistic and proactive approach" to mitigate the impact of the prolonged drought or dry spell affecting the country.

NEDA said 16 provinces in the Philippines are reeling from drought and 55 more provinces are experiencing dry spell as of March 19. (Philippines-Drought)

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MANILA -- Chinese companies are creating a mass of local jobs in the Philippines, Secretary of Trade and Industry of the Philippines Ramon Lopez said on Friday.

The bulk of the workers hired by the Chinese companies here in the Philippines are Filipinos, Lopez told Xinhua in an interview. (Philippines-Chinese Companies)

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MALE -- The Maldivian high court has ordered the release of former President Abdulla Yameen from detention as there was not enough evidence to hold him on allegations of witness tampering, local media reported Friday.

Yameen was detained last month after a criminal court ordered authorities to take him into custody until a money-laundering case against him is concluded in court. (Maldives-Former President)

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KABUL -- More than 20 people were killed after Taliban militants attacked police checkpoints in two Afghan provinces overnight as spring and summer known as fighting season are drawing near in the country, local officials said on Friday.

In one incident, nine police officers, including a district police chief, were killed and six police wounded when Taliban militants stormed police checkpoints in Ghazni city, capital of eastern Ghazni province, the provincial police spokesman told Xinhua. (Afghanistan-Taliban)

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SEOUL -- South Korea's unification ministry in charge of inter-Korean relations said Friday that it will push for the visit to Seoul by top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) Kim Jong Un this year.

The ministry said in its 2019 work plan, submitted to the National Assembly, that through Kim's visit to Seoul, South Korea will try to create a virtuous cycle of improved relations between the two Koreas and between the DPRK and the United States, and the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. (S.Korea-DPRK-Ties)

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SEOUL -- South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo will visit Washington next week for talks with acting U.S. Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, Seoul's defense ministry said Friday.

Jeong and Shanahan will hold defense ministers' talks in Washington on Monday (Washington time), the first face-to-face meeting since Shanahan took the Pentagon post in January, according to the Seoul ministry. (S.Korea-U.S.-Visit)

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PHNOM PENH -- Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen announced Friday a number of measures to strengthen economic independence and to support local exporters amidst the possible lifting of the European Union (EU)'s preferential trade arrangement under the Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme.

The EU started in February the 18-month process that could lead to the temporary suspension of Cambodia's duty-free trading access to the EU market under the EBA scheme due to concerns over human rights and labor rights. (Cambodia-Economy) Enditem

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