Xinhua Asia-Pacific news summary at 1600 GMT, March 31

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MANILA -- The Philippines and the United States will begin on Monday their biggest annual joint military exercise known as Balikatan, or Shoulder-to-Shoulder.

Exercise spokesman for the Philippines Lt. Cmdr. Liez Vidallon has said there are around 7,500 participating troops, consisting of some 4,000 Philippine troops and 3,500 U.S. troops, in this year's Balikatan drills.(Philippines-US-Exercise)

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JAKARTA -- Indonesia will immediately construct temporary shelters for victims of flash floods and landslides, which destroyed over 2,000 houses and killed 112 people in eastern Papua province, a senior disaster management official said Sunday.

The catastrophe striking Jayapura district on March 16 forced nearly 12,000 people to flee home after their houses were rattled by the current, and buried by soils, said Dodi Sambodo, spokesman of joint command post for emergency relief efforts in the province.(Indonesia-Disaster)

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COLOMBO -- The United Nations Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture is set to carry out its first visit to Sri Lanka from April 2 to April 12 to examine the treatment of people and the safeguards in place for their protection against torture and ill-treatment, local media reported Sunday.

A UN statement said the four-member delegation will meet Sri Lankan government officials during their visit and hold discussions with relevant ministries, as well as to meet with the Human Rights Commission and civil society organizations.(Sri Lanka-UN-Torture)

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DHAKA -- Chinese oil giant Sinopec has launched its lubricant brand in Bangladesh, making a foray into the fast-growing segment of the country's market.

General Engineers Limited, the authorized distributor of Sinopec in Bangladesh, held the launching ceremony at a hotel here on Saturday night.(Bangladesh-Sinopec)

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DHAKA -- Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) President Jin Liqun has approved a loan of 120 million U.S. dollars for a project that will upgrade and expand the power transmission system in Bangladesh's southeastern Chattogram region, home to more than 4 million people.

The Bangladesh Power System Upgrade and Expansion Project is the first AIIB financing approved under the bank's Accountability Framework, the Beijing-based lender said in a statement received here Sunday.(Bangladesh-AIIB-Loan) Enditem

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