World briefs: Asia disputes worry Kerry

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JAKARTA, Indonesia -- Asia's territorial disputes could provoke military conflict unless countries in the region agree to new maritime codes of conduct and an increasingly assertive China agrees to base its claims on international law and resolve them peacefully, Secretary of State John Kerry warned Monday. Mr. Kerry was on the third stop on a tour of Asia and the Middle East.

He criticized China's declaration of an air defense identification zone in November over much of the East China Sea, including disputed islands administered by Japan. He complained about new rules that China issued in January restricting fishing in disputed waters of the South China Sea and about the Chinese navy's moves to seize control of the Scarborough Shoal and restrict access to rival claimant the Philippines.

U.N. panel warns Kim

GENEVA -- A U.N. panel warned North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Monday that he may be held accountable for orchestrating widespread crimes against civilians in the secretive Asian nation, ranging from systematic executions to torture, rape and mass starvation.

In a letter accompanying a yearlong investigative report, the chairman of a three-member U.N. commission of inquiry, retired Australian judge Michael Kirby, warned Mr. Kim that international prosecution is needed "to render accountable all those, including possibly yourself, who may be responsible for crimes against humanity."

Lawmaker convicted

SEOUL, South Korea -- A court sentenced an opposition lawmaker to 12 years in prison Monday for organizing a "revolutionary organization" and conspiring to start an armed revolt to overthrow the Seoul government in the event of war with North Korea.

Lee Seok-ki, 51, who is affiliated with the far-left United Progressive Party, became the first South Korean lawmaker convicted on charges of "plotting treason" since the country's past military dictators used them to silence dissidents decades ago. He has denied the charges against him.

Peace talks in trouble

PESHAWAR, Pakistan -- The Pakistani government's bid to negotiate a truce with Islamist insurgents verged on collapse Monday after reports that militants had executed 23 paramilitary soldiers held captive since 2010.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the "heinous, criminal act" and negotiators canceled talks with Islamist representatives.

A militant group in the Mohmand tribal area in northwest Pakistan near the Afghan border on Sunday claiming responsibility for the killings of the Frontier Corps paramilitary soldiers.

Also in the world ...

At least eight people died Monday when a building collapsed in the South Korean city of Gyeongju. Rescuers worked to free 15 students trapped in the rubble of a resort complex that was hosting 550 students from Busan University of Foreign Studies. More than 70 students were injured. ... A former prime minister of Georgia, Ivane Merabishvili, was convicted Monday of corruption charges and sentenced to five years in prison, making him the most senior official yet to be convicted in seemingly politically motivated prosecutions that followed a change in control of the government in 2012. ... Police in the Indian coastal state of Goa have charged Tarun J. Tejpal, an investigative journalist and magazine editor, with raping and sexually assaulting a female staff reporter during a November encounter in a hotel elevator. Mr. Tejpal, editor of Tehelka magazine, is known as a crusader for liberal causes and enjoys celebrity status.


-- Compiled from news services


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