World News in Brief: December 29

Saturday, 2018-12-29 13:31:14
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A powerful 7.1-magnitude earthquake struck off the Davao Oriental province in the southern Philippine island of Mindanao on Saturday (December 29), the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said. The US Geological Survey measured the quake at 6.9 magnitude. No damages have been reported by the Philippine government yet.

* German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron on December 28 urged Russia to release the Ukrainian sailors who were detained during the tensions in the Sea of Azov, Ukrainian media reported.

* US President Donald Trump on December 28 threatened to close the southern border amid an ongoing partial government shutdown, resuming his push for the funding of a long-promised US-Mexico border wall.

* Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte used his final press conference of the year to double down on the government's belief that the Italian economy will grow fast next year than anyone else predicts.

* Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on December 28 signed an order on creating a high-level working group with Belarus to discuss various aspects of bilateral integration and controversial issues, Russian media reported.

* A deadly landmine explosion has killed six four Afghan women and two children in restive northern province of Faryab, authorities said Saturday.

* Brazil's President-elect Jair Bolsonaro and visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on December 28 agreed to strengthen bilateral ties in technology, security, defense and agriculture.

* Russia and Britain have reached in principle an agreement to gradually restore diplomatic staff starting January, Russian Ambassador to London Alexander Yakovenko said on December 28 .

* The Syrian army declared on December 28 entering the northern city of Manbij and raising the Syrian flag in it, following the withdrawal of Kurdish militia, according to the state TV.

* A major blizzard in the US state of New Mexico from December 27 night to December 28 has caused cancellation of flights and closure of many highways in the southwestern state. Winter Storm Warnings and Blizzard Warnings remain in effect for much of northern New Mexico.

* Turkish police arrested 62 Iraqi nationals suspected of having links to the Islamic State (IS), state-run Anadolu Agency reported on December 28.

* Anti-bomb disposal units of the pro-government forces on December 28 began to defuse hundreds of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and landmines laid by the Houthi rebels in Yemen's Red Sea port city of Hodeidah.

* Turkish Defense Ministry on December 28 called on all parties to prevent the escalation of instability in Manbij, northern Syria.

* An upgraded long range Russian multimode missile carrying bomber Tu-22M3M performed its maiden flight on December 28, the designer of the aircraft said.

* Pakistani Army Chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa on December 28 confirmed death sentences to 22 "hardcore terrorists" who were involved in offenses related to terrorism in the country, the military said.