World News in Brief: February 5

Tuesday, 2019-02-05 16:50:45
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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on February 4 extended his warm wishes for the Chinese Lunar New Year, or Spring Festival. In a video message, Guterres thanked China and the Chinese people for their commitment to the United Nations and called for efforts to build a peaceful and prosperous world.

* Philippine Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Ano said on February 5 that Indonesia has expressed willingness to help Philippine authorities identify the Indonesian "suicide bombers" that carried out the twin blasts on Jan. 27 which left 23 people dead and more than 100 others wounded.

* US State Department said in Washington on February 4 that the country's special envoy on issues related to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) will travel to Pyongyang to prepare for the second summit of the two nations' top leaders.

* Russia will give an adequate response to the US withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty but will not shelve proposals aimed at stopping the arms race, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday (February 4).

* Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel held talks in Tokyo on February 4 and advocated free trade as a free trade pact between Japan and the European Union (EU) went into effect on Friday.

* The newly-appointed head of the United Nations mission to monitor a truce agreement arrived on February 5 in Yemen's rebel-held capital Sanaa.

* An explosive device went off near a prison in Syria's northern city of Manbij Tuesday, the latest in a string of bombings in that Kurdish-controlled city, activists said.

* The death toll of a pre-dawn fire in an apartment building in Paris rose to eight on February 5 morning, said Paris Prosecutor Remy Heitz who called it a "criminal" act.

* Venezuela's foreign ministry rejected on February 4 several European countries' decision to recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president.

* Russia supports a settlement plan for Venezuela, proposed by Uruguay and Mexico, but does not accept proposals by the European Union and condemns US threats to invade the Latin American country, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday.

* Brazil's government on February 4 announced it will submit an anti-crime bill to congress that stiffens penalties for serious crimes.

* Russia's economy expanded a higher-than-expected 2.3 percent in 2018, preliminary data published by the Russia's Federal Statistics Service (Rosstat) showed on February 4. The volume of Russia's growth domestic product (GDP) for 2018 amounted to RUB103.63 trillion (about US$1.58 trillion), rising by 2.3 percent year on year compared to 2017.

* A total of 89 candidates had submitted documents to register as candidates in Ukraine's forthcoming presidential election before the deadline on Feb. 3, local media reported on February 4.

* President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Peter Maurer said on February 4 that Iraq still faces massive humanitarian challenges as 1.8 million people remain displaced within Iraq more than a year after major combat operations against Islamic States (IS) ended.

* Saudi-led coalition involved in a war in Yemen announced on February 4 the targeting of Houthis' drones and warehouses near Sanaa, Al Arabiya TV reported.

* Iraq and Russia have expressed their keenness to develop relations and widen cooperation in all fields on February 4, a statement from the office of Iraq's Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said.

* US President Donald Trump sat down with Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell for an informal dinner in the White House to discuss the economy, the central bank said Monday evening.

* Rescuers were ready to rescue villagers near Mount Karangetan volcano in Indonesia's North Sulawesi province through sea if the volcano spewed more hot lava, a senior official said on February 5.

* The situation in Yemen, despite talks aboard a ship in the Port of Hodeidah, was described by the chief UN spokesman on February 4 as fragile.

* The death toll in a fire in a luxury apartment building in the central Moscow has risen to eight, Russian media reported on February 4.