TOKYO (AP) -- The Tokyo area has been hit by a rare heavy snowfall, stalling trains, grounding flights, and blanketing roads and skyscrapers with snow.
By mid-afternoon Saturday, around 10 centimeters (4 inches) of snow had fallen.
After issuing its first heavy snowfall warning for central Tokyo in 13 years, the Japan Meteorological Agency said snow and rain would continue through the night, but that skies would clear gradually Sunday.
Several universities in Tokyo delayed the start of entrance exams because of delays in metropolitan trains and subways, known for almost always being on time.
Major carriers Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways suspended domestic flights from Tokyo's Haneda airport. Some bullet trains were delayed and parts of expressways were closed.
CHINA-US-SOUTH CHINA SEA
BEIJING (AP) -- China has rejected U.S. allegations that it is using vague territorial claims unsupported by international law to gradually assert control in the disputed South China Sea.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei is urging the U.S. to take a "rational and fair attitude." He said Saturday that playing up tensions is not conducive to maintaining peace and stability.
According to him, China has been committed to resolving maritime disputes directly with its neighbors.
The United States said Wednesday that actions by China have raised concerns it was trying to assert control over an area covering roughly 80 percent of the South China Sea based on Chinese maps despite the objections of its neighbors.
Salvadoran man adrift at sea more than a year still too frail to go home
MAJURO, Marshall Islands (AP) -- The Salvadoran man who says he survived more than a year drifting across the Pacific before making landfall in the Marshall Islands is too frail to travel and will remain in the island nation for a while longer.
Diego Dalton, an official with El Salvador's embassy in Tokyo, says Jose Salvador Alvarenga is still weak and doesn't have plans to return home yet.
Alvarenga washed ashore late last month. The 37-year-old was taken last week to the Marshall Islands' capital, Majuro, where he has been resting at a hotel.
Dalton arrived in Majuro late Friday and met with Alvarenga.
He said Saturday that Alvarenga's health was "very frail" and that he would not return home until he was able to make the journey.
ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) -- A man has been killed by a shark while spear fishing off the south Australian coast.
South Australia state police say in a statement the 28-year-old was part of a group spear fishing off Yorke Peninsula, west of the state capital of Adelaide, when witnesses reported seeing a shark attack him at midday Saturday.
Police and emergency services crews are searching the area around Goldsmith Beach with boats and helicopters, but so far have found no trace of the man.
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- The incoming No. 2 American commander in Afghanistan says his immediate focus is on supporting Afghan elections -- not on the possibility of U.S. troops remaining after the NATO-led combat mission ends.
At a Saturday ceremony in Kabul, Lt. Gen. Mark Milley handed over International Security Assistance Force Joint Command to Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson.
It was the last such ceremony for the U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force, whose mandate expires at the end of 2014.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has delayed signing a deal that would allow some U.S. forces to remain in the country, which Anderson said Saturday gives him a "little bit of pause" but is ultimately a "longer term issue."
He said the April 5 election and early summer fighting season have more immediacy.
BEIRUT (AP) -- Renewed fighting has broken a cease-fire in the central Syrian city of Homs (hohms), halting a plan to evacuate civilians and deliver supplies.
Syrian officials say two trucks carrying food and medical supplies into rebel-held neighborhoods turned back under heavy fire, and four paramedics were wounded.
The governor of the province told a Lebanon-based TV outlet that the trucks were targeted by two roadside bombs and a mortar shell.
Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad have prevented the entry of food and medical aid into rebel-held parts of the city for over a year. Yesterday, 83 children, women and elderly people were evacuated from Homs under an agreement that had called for a three-day truce.
Opposition activists say the government broke the truce by launching a rocket attack on one of the neighborhoods they hold.
Meanwhile, in northern Syria, activists say military aircraft dropped barrel bombs on rebel-held areas in Aleppo today, killing at least 15.
VIENNA (AP) -- Iran has told diplomats that it plans to cooperate this weekend with U.N. experts probing alleged activities whose existence it has steadfastly denied -- work on nuclear weapons.
A U.N. nuclear agency team arrived in Tehran on Friday, and the state IRNA news agency cited Iranian atomic energy organization spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi as saying his country is ready to answer all their questions
IRNA did not elaborate, and such pledges have been made before. But a senior diplomat from an IAEA member nation cites a ranking Iranian official as telling him and other diplomats that Iran was specifically ready to engage on the weapons program suspicions.
The diplomat demanded anonymity because he wasn't allowed to discuss the meetings.
Iran denies working on -- or wanting -- nuclear arms.
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iran's Supreme Leader has urged officials not to pin hopes for economic recovery on the sanctions relief from a landmark deal reached with world powers on Tehran's nuclear program.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also called on critics of the interim nuclear deal achieved on Nov. 24 in Geneva to be fair and give time to President Hassan Rouhani to pursue its policy of engagement with the outside world.
He was speaking to air force officers Monday. His comments were posted on his website, leader.ir. Khamenei said the government should rely on Iran's domestic capabilities to resolve economic problems.
Negotiations over a final comprehensive deal are to start Feb. 18.
Rouhani has been strongly criticized by hard-liners who say the interim deal made too many concessions in return for too little.
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iranian warships dispatched to the Atlantic Ocean will travel close to U.S. maritime borders for the first time, a senior Iranian naval commander said Saturday.
The commander of Iran's Northern Navy Fleet, Admiral Afshin Rezayee Haddad, said the vessels have already entered the Atlantic Ocean via waters near South Africa, the official IRNA news agency reported.
The fleet, consisting of a destroyer and a helicopter-carrying supply ship, began its voyage last month from the southern Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas. The ships, carrying some 30 navy academy cadets for training along with their regular crews, are on a three-month mission.
The voyage comes amid an ongoing push by Iran to demonstrate its ability to project power across the Middle East and beyond.
IRNA quoted Haddad as saying the fleet is approaching U.S. maritime borders for the first time. The Islamic Republic considers the move as a response to U.S. naval deployments near its own coastlines. The U.S. Navy's 5th fleet is based in Bahrain, just across the Persian Gulf.
CAIRO (AP) -- Egypt's military spokesman says airstrikes in the northern Sinai Peninsula have killed 16 militants with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, the ousted president's Islamist group.
Col. Ahmed Mohammed Ali said on Saturday the airstrikes targeted hideouts of "terrorist, extremely dangerous takfiri" militants late Friday in the eastern border town of Sheikh Zuweyid. Takfiri is an Arabic term referring to Islamic radicals.
He described the targeted militants as affiliated with the "terrorist" Brotherhood group.
It was the fourth such airstrike with a high death toll since militants downed a military helicopter in a nearby area on Jan. 24, killing all its crew members.
The military has been waging a wide offensive against Sinai militants. The area has been a hotbed for attacks on the military since the ouster of President Mohammed Morsi in July.
CAIRO (AP) -- A leading left-wing Egyptian politician says he will contest upcoming presidential elections, set to be a tough battle for anyone hoping to face an anticipated run by the country's powerful army chief.
Hamdeen Sabahi, who placed third in the nation's first free presidential race in 2012, told his supporters in Cairo on Saturday that he will run because "the revolution must rule."
His constituency is mainly a range of liberal and leftist youth groups that reject both military and Islamist rule.
Sabahi has postponed his announcement for weeks saying his decision was pending an announcement by Defense Minister Gen. Abdel-Fatah el-Sissi.
El-Sissi led the military coup that deposed Islamist President Mohammed Morsi last July after millions marched to demand his resignation. He has yet to publicly declare his intentions but the military has backed him.
ISTANBUL (AP) -- Turkish riot police fired water cannons and tear gas at hundreds of demonstrators who tried to march to Istanbul's main square to protest legislation which critics say will tighten government controls over the Internet.
Demonstrators hurled firecrackers and stones Saturday at police officers who cordoned off Taksim Square. Many also denounced a corruption scandal involving former Cabinet ministers and called on the government to resign.
The president is under pressure not to ratify the legislation, which would allow authorities to block websites for privacy violation without a court decision. Internet providers would also be forced to keep users' data and make them available to authorities.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan denied accusations of censorship on Saturday, insisting the legislation would make the Internet "more safe and free."
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) -- Turkish state media say anti-terrorism police are questioning a Ukrainian man who reportedly tried to hijack a Turkey-bound flight to Sochi, Russia, as the Winter Olympics were beginning.
TRT television said Saturday that police were trying to determine whether the man, identified as Artem Hozlov, had links to any terror groups.
Police officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
Officials said the man claimed he had a bomb and tried to divert the Pegasus Airlines flight which originated in Kharkiv, Ukraine. The crew tricked him and landed in Istanbul instead where he was subdued by security officers who sneaked on board.
SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) -- In a peaceful gesture after days of violent protests, Bosnians have swept up rubble in the northern city of Tuzla left over from the rioting.
But many are still furious over the nearly 40-percent unemployment rate and privatizations after the 1992-95 war that enriched a few tycoons and impoverished most of the middle class.
Hundreds gathered in peaceful demonstrations Saturday in the capital, Sarajevo, and other cities. On Friday, protesters set fire to government buildings in several cities, including the Bosnian presidency in Sarajevo.
In Tuzla, where the riots started Tuesday, people appeared with brooms and cleaned up stones and other wreckage.
The local governments in four cities, including Sarajevo, have resigned amid the unrest.
PARIS (AP) -- Officials say an enormous boulder has smashed into a tourist train, derailing it and killing two people.
The train derailed Saturday morning outside the French town of Annot, and Mayor Jean Ballester told BFM television that "there are unfortunately two dead." France's top security official, Manuel Vals, confirmed two dead and nine injured.
The so-called Train of the Pines runs from the southern French city of Nice to Digne-les-Bain. Ballester said about 30 people were on board when it derailed. The train was still dangling dramatically from the tracks three hours after the accident, the side of one car caved in from the boulder.
Ballester said the rock felll from the mountain "with an extraordinary force."
PANAMA CITY (AP) -- Panama Canal officials say a North Korean ship seized as it was smuggling weapons is free to leave because the owner has paid a fine of nearly $700,000.
The Canal Authority says the fine was imposed for violating navigation regulations by not reporting that the Chong Chon Gang was transporting war material.
Three of the vessel's operators still face charges, while 32 crew members are free to return to North Korea.
The vessel was detained in July when a search revealed it was carrying weapons from Cuba.
A Panamanian official said the ship carried two Cuban fighter jets in perfect condition, contradicting Cuba's explanation that the cargo included "obsolete defensive weapons." A preliminary report by U.N. experts determined the seized ship violated U.N. sanctions against North Korea.