World News in Brief: January 1

Tuesday, 2019-01-01 19:12:52
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Tens of thousands of Pyongyang residents, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), gathered at Kim Il Sung Square on December 31 night to watch the New Year performance and New Year countdown.

* New York's Times Square erupted with fireworks and cheers at the stroke of midnight on January 1 (January 1) as thousands of hardy merrymakers braved pouring rain and watched the glowing New Year's Eve ball complete its midnight descent to mark the start of 2019.

* More than 100,000 spectators are expected to descend on central London to watch New Year's Eve fireworks display Monday (December 31) night, according to local media reports. Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said the firework display will celebrate London's relationship with Europe as part of his #LondonIsOpen campaign.

* Joint efforts are needed as China faces both opportunities and challenges in 2019, said President Xi Jinping in his New Year speech on December 31. The People's Republic of China will celebrate its 70th birthday in 2019.

* Speaking on the occasion of the new year 2019, Myanmar President U Win Myint called on the country people to give more cooperation and assistance to the government's efforts for domestic peace, the establishment of the democratic federal union and development.

* Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on December 31 promised "to root out" corruption and bring about a national "rebirth." The president, who took office on Deccember 1, called on Mexicans to welcome 2019 "with optimism."

* Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos, in his e-mail message for the New Year, stressed the importance of unity among the Greek people to meet national goals.

* Seoul's unification ministry said in a statement that the Republic of Korea (RoK) government hailed the New Year's speech by Kim Jong-un, top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), in which the DPRK leader showed his stance that his country will continue efforts for the Korean Peninsula's complete denuclearization, the establishment of permanent peace, and the expanded development in relations with the RoK.

* House Democrats have reportedly prepared a plan to end the ongoing partial shutdown of the US federal government, without funding for President Donald Trump's border wall.

* British Prime Minister Theresa May has been in contact with European Union (EU) leaders over Christmas holidays in her painstaking efforts to seek the reassurances she hopes will help her Brexit deal pass parliament in mid-January, Downing Street said on December 31.

* Chinese President Xi Jinping on December 31 said 10 million people in the country's rural areas were lifted out of poverty in 2018, when delivering a New Year speech. Another 125 counties were removed from the country's list of impoverished counties after going through evaluation this year, he said.

* The Italian society should follow the positive values of living together to overcome difficulties and achieve more security, Italian President Sergio Mattarella urged in his New Year speech on December 31.

* US President Donald Trump said on December 31 that his country is "slowly" withdrawing troops from Syria, seemingly reversing a previously planned rapid exit.

* The rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU) on January 1 passed to Romania. It is the first time that Romania holds the rotating presidency of the Council, and it will host a summit in Sibiu, a city in central Romania, in May.

* The Republic of Korea's export topped US$600 billion last year for the first time in the country's history, a government report showed Tuesday. It was up 5.5 percent from the previous year, marking the biggest since the country began the outbound shipment in 1948.

* The stabbing of three people at Manchester railway station on Monday (December 31) night was being treated as terror related, British police said Tuesday. A 25-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after the incident shortly before 2100 GMT on Monday.

* Naval units from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Djibouti, Yemen and Sudan started on January 1 joint naval drills in the Red Sea, the armed forces reported on its website.

* Seven people were killed in a fire at a private residential house in the Ural city of Orsk in Russia's Orenburg region, the Russian Emergencies Ministry said Tuesday.

* Nearly 300 newly elected members of Bangladesh's parliament will take oath on January 3, a government official said on January 1. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's ruling Bangladesh Awami League gained a stunning majority in the Sunday (December 30)’s elections, winning 259 out 298 parliament seats, followed by its key ally, former President HM Ershad's Jatiya Party with 20 seats in the election marred by violence which left at least 17 people dead.

* Brazil's President-elect Jair Bolsonaro will be sworn in on January 1 amid tight security, including more than 3,200 civilian and military security personnel, combat aircraft and surface-to-air missiles.

* Cambodian authorities arrested 16,232 illicit drug suspects in 8,018 cases in 2018, said an Interior Ministry's anti-drug department report on January 1.

* Kim Jong-un, top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), said Tuesday that he would push forward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and was ready to meet with US President Donald Trump at any time.

* Iran and Syria on December 31 discussed the ways to facilitate banking transactions between the two countries, Tehran Times daily reported.

* The Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) rescued 180 migrants off the coast of Malta on December 31. The rescue carried out during the night involved two separate operations.

* The landslides and flash floods triggered by heavy rains in the Philippines have caused 75 people dead and 16 others missing, the government disaster agency said on January 1.

* A total of 41 villagers were missing after fatal landslides struck Suka Bumi district in Indonesia's West Java province on December 31, a disaster agency official said on January 1.

* At least 184 Afghan civilians were killed and 94 injured in clashes and terrorist attacks in December 2018 in the militancy-hit country, a monitor group reported on January 1.