The US 7th Fleet said a Navy P-8A Poseidon flew through the Taiwan Strait on Wednesday, a day after US and Chinese defence chiefs held their first talks since November 2022 in an effort to reduce regional tensions. The patrol and reconnaissance plane "transited the Taiwan Strait in international airspace," the 7th Fleet said in a news release. "By operating within the Taiwan Strait in accordance with international law, the United States upholds the navigational rights and freedoms of all nations," the release said.

The critical strait is 160 kilometres (100 mile) wide and divides China from the self-governing island democracy. Although it's in international waters, China considers the passage of foreign military aircraft and ships through it a challenge to its sovereignty. China claims the island of Taiwan, threatening to defend it by force if necessary despite U.S. military support for the island. China said it scrambled fighter jets to "monitor the U.S. plane's passage" and operated "in accordance of laws and regulations."

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro ordered the closure of his country's embassy and consulates in Ecuador in solidarity with Mexico in its protest over a raid by Ecuadorian authorities on the Mexican Embassy in Quito. Maduro and other presidents participating in a virtual meeting of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States expressed their support for Mexico's request to have the United Nations suspend Ecuador from the world body over the April 5 raid. But Maduro was the only one to announce the closure of diplomatic outposts and recall of personnel.

Ecuadorian President Daniel Noboa ordered authorities to raid the Mexican Embassy to arrest the country's former Vice President Jorge Glas, a convicted criminal and fugitive who had been living there since December. The extraordinarily unusual use of force drew immediate condemnation from governments around the world because diplomatic premises are considered foreign soil and "inviolable" under the Vienna treaties.

Heavy rain has been battering Gulf states, causing flash floods that have killed 20 people and disrupted flights at the world's second-busiest airport. Dubai Airport said it was facing "very challenging conditions" on Wednesday. It advised passengers not to turn up as runways were inundated with water. Further north, a man died when his car was caught in flash floods. In Oman, rescuers found the body of a girl in Saham, bringing the death toll in the country to 19 since Sunday.

Authorities also warned that more thunderstorms, heavy rain and strong winds were forecast. The United Arab Emirates, Oman's northern neighbour, experienced on Tuesday its largest rainfall event since records began 75 years ago. The National Centre of Meteorology announced that 254.8mm (9.7in) had fallen on Khatm al-Shakla, in the emirate of al-Ain, over less than 24 hours. The country averages 140-200 mm of rainfall per year, while Dubai typically receives only 97mm. The monthly average for April is only about 8mm.

A teenager has been accused of wounding a Christian bishop and a priest during a church service in the second high-profile knife attack to rock Sydney in recent days, leaving communities on edge, leaders calling for calm and a besieged church urging against retaliation. The 16-year-old was overpowered by the shocked congregation at Christ the Good Shepherd Church after he allegedly stabbed Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel and the Rev. Isaac Royel during a service on Monday night that was being streamed online.

Police have not commented on reports that the boy's fingers were severed by parishioners in the Orthodox Assyrian church in suburban Wakeley, but confirmed his hand injuries were "severe." Video of the attack spread quickly on social media and an angry mob converged on the church demanding vengeance. They hurled bricks, bottles and fence boards at police, who temporarily barricaded the boy inside the church for his own safety.

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