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BEIJING | Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates confirmed Wednesday that he is in discussions with China to jointly develop a new and safer kind of nuclear reactor.

“The idea is to be very low cost, very safe and generate very little waste,” the billionaire said during a talk at China’s Ministry of Science and Technology.

Mr. Gates has largely funded a Washington state-based company, TerraPower, that is developing a Generation IV nuclear reactor that can run on depleted uranium.

The general manager of state-owned China National Nuclear Corp., Sun Qin, was quoted in Chinese media last week saying Mr. Gates was working with it to research and develop a reactor.

LAOS

Commission puts off decision on Mekong River dam

BANGKOK | Four Southeast Asian nations on Thursday again postponed a decision on Laos’ plan to build the first dam across the Mekong River’s mainstream amid a barrage of opposition from neighboring countries and environmental groups.

The Mekong River Commission, a regional management forum, said the countries would approach Japan and international agencies to further study the impact of the proposed $3.5 billion Xayaburi dam.

The commission’s decisions are not binding, and there are signs that Laos is starting preparations for the project.

In what has become Southeast Asia’s biggest environmental battle, opponents say the dam in central Laos would open the door for a building spree of as many as 10 other dams on the 3,000-mile-long river in Laos and Cambodia, degrading its fragile ecology and affecting the livelihoods of millions of residents.

But Laos, an impoverished country eager to gain revenue from hydroelectric power, has been pushing for its construction despite strong opposition from longtime communist ally Vietnam, environmental groups and villagers along the river.

THAILAND

Fugitive ‘Red Shirt’ leader surrenders in Thailand

BANGKOK | A fugitive leader of Thailand’s “Red Shirts” protesters who escaped a police raid by rappelling down a hotel facade in a scene captured by network news teams surrendered Wednesday after 20 months on the run.

Arisman Pongruangrong, a pop singer-turned-activist known for hotheaded speeches that sometimes were interpreted as incitements to arson, faces five serious charges that include terrorism.

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