World News in Brief: January 2

Wednesday, 2019-01-02 16:27:28
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In his final New Year's address from the throne on January 2, Japan's Emperor Akihito expressed his ongoing hopes for world peace, with a record number of visitors and well-wishes expected to visit the Imperial Palace throughout the day.

* Raul Castro, leader of Cuba's ruling Communist Party (PCC), said on January 1 that the transition of generation in Cuba goes very well and the continuity of the country's socialist revolution is guaranteed.

* Chinese President Xi Jinping on January 2 said China must be and will be reunified, as he addressed a gathering in Beijing to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Chinese mainland's Message to Compatriots in Taiwan.

* US President Donald Trump has invited congressional leaders to discuss the ongoing partial government shutdown and border funding at the White House, US media reported on January 1.

* China and the United States should continue to serve the fundamental and common interests of the two peoples as the two sides develop future-oriented China-US relations, said Chinese Ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai on January 1.

* Top nuclear envoys of the Republic of Korea and the United States on January 2 held phone talks over the New Year's speech by Kim Jong-un, top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), Seoul's foreign ministry said.

* In an interview with Spanish journalist Ignacio Ramonet, released by the Ministry of Popular Power for Communication and Information on January 1, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said that the international sanctions against Venezuela cost the South American country US$20 billion in 2018.

* Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen has paid particular tribute to the European Union (EU) during his New Year's speech to the nation on January 1, calling the bloc the "best idea we have ever had."

* The Republic of Korea (RoK) President Moon Jae-in vowed on January 2 to continue his government's economic reform drive in 2019 to create jobs and fair economy through innovation and improved industrial structure.

* Army captain-turned-politician Jair Bolsonaro was sworn in as Brazil's president on January 1 amid heightened security.

* Russia's value-added tax (VAT) rate was officially increased to 20 percent from 18 on January 1, according to a law signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

* A total of 14 bodies were recovered so far after a gas explosion in a residential building in the city of Magnitogorsk, local branch of the Russian emergency ministry said in a statement on January 2.

* The Australian government has announced the closure of two onshore immigration detention facilities (Maribyrnong in Melbourne and Villawood in Sydney).

* US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents shoot tear gas on January 1 to deter about 150 migrants attempting to breach the US-Mexico border fence into California.

* A convoy of Myanmar's Rakhine State Chief Minister U Nyi Pu has been attacked with remotely controlled mines on Yangon-Sittway road but with no casualties, Myanmar News Agency reported on January 2.

* At least five Afghan soldiers were killed and six others wounded after Taliban militants attacked an army camp in Maywand district of southern Kandahar province on January 1 night, a local official said on January 2.

* Indonesian disaster authorities have raised the death toll from landslides hitting Indonesia's West Java province on December 31 to 15, with 20 other people still missing, a government official said.

* High winds caused damage and hampered transit in Finland on January 1 evening, with conditions predicted to worsen overnight and on January 2.