Xinhua Asia-Pacific news summary at 1000 GMT, April 16

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TOKYO -- Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono on Tuesday expressed his strong hope that Britain's planned departure from the European Union (EU) would be a smooth one and that a "no-deal" Brexit would be avoided.

Kono told British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt at a meeting in Tokyo that he welcomed the fact that Britain leaving the EU without a deal has been avoided for the time being, after the deadline for Britain to leave the EU was postponed from April 12 to Oct. 31. (Japan-Brexit)

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KABUL -- Nearly 200 Taliban fighters have been killed in Afghanistan's northern provinces since the so-called annual offensive was launched by the outfit on Friday, an army spokesman in the northern region, Mohammad Hanif Rezai, said Tuesday.

According to the official, the armed outfit has spared no efforts to overrun at least some districts or a city but so far failed to achieve the goal. Over a dozen foreign fighters are also among those killed in the counter-insurgency operations, the official added, but he didn't identify their nationalities. (Afghanistan-Taliban)

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BANGKOK -- Nearly 300 people have been killed and more than 2,800 others injured in road accidents during the Songkran festival throughout Thailand, an official said Tuesday.

Sukhum Kanchanaphimai, a director of the Road Safety Directing Center, said 297 people have been reportedly killed and 2,807 others injured in varied road accidents during the five-day peak of Songkran season from last Thursday to Monday. (Thailand-Songkran)

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HERAT, Afghanistan -- At least five people were killed and 17 others went missing after heavy rains and floods hit Afghanistan's western province of Herat, a local official said Tuesday.

"Five people were killed and 17 others went missing when flash floods engulfed vast areas in Adraskan, Zawol and Obe districts of Herat province over the last 24 hours," Jailani Farhad, a provincial government spokesman, told Xinhua. (Afghanistan-Floods)

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HONG KONG -- It is a constitutional obligation for China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) to safeguard national security in successfully implementing the principle of "one country, two systems", officials have said at a symposium here.

"The successful implementation of 'one country, two systems' is impossible without national security. Here in Hong Kong, we must always keep the special administrative region's constitutional obligation close at heart," Wang Zhimin, director of the central government's liaison office in HKSAR, said at the symposium on Monday to mark China's fourth National Security Education Day. (Hong Kong-National Security) Enditem

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