World News in Brief: December 5

Thursday, 2019-12-05 15:29:26
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Sri Lanka's new interim government will launch green projects in the island country as part of a mega beautification program to maintain the ecosystem, local media quoted parliamentarian Namal Rajapaksa as saying on Thursday (December 5).

* Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel on Wednesday (December 4) railed against new "unjust and arrogant" US sanctions, this time penalizing ships supplying oil from Venezuela.

* Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced the biggest overhaul of the nation's public service in decades. Morrison told reporters in Canberra on Thursday that his decision to reduce the number of government departments from 18 to 14 from Feb. 1 would "bust bureaucratic congestion and improve decision making."

* Death toll has risen to nine in a sewage tank collapse at a printing and dyeing mill in east China's Zhejiang Province, local authorities said at a press conference on Wednesday morning. The cause of the accident is under investigation.

* The United States has completed its military pullback in northeastern Syria, settling into a more stable posture of about 600 troops in the rest of the country after repositioning and reducing forces, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said.

* Nearly one million Syrian refugees have so far returned from Lebanon since June 2018, the pro-government al-Watan newspaper reported on Thursday.

* Negotiations between US and Mexican officials aimed at clinching a deal on revisions to the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) trade deal will continue on Thursday, Mexico's top negotiator said on Wednesday.

* Yemen's pro-government forces confirmed Thursday that an Iranian ship carrying missile components was seized in the Arabian Sea near the country's coasts.

* At least five Turkish soldiers were killed when a car bomb targeted their convoy in northern Syria near Turkey overnight, state news agency SANA reported earlier on Thursday.

* Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and visiting Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven discussed deepening economic cooperation, the president's website reported Wednesday.

* Jordan and Qatar on Wednesday signed three agreements to launch projects and initiatives to help Syrian refugees and host communities, the Jordan state-run Petra news agency reported.

* The Global Climate Risk Index has placed India among the top five countries most affected by climate change in its annual report for 2020. The list is topped by Japan, Philippines, Germany and Madagascar.

* Uganda plans to borrow EUR600 million (US$661 million) from international banks to plug a hole in its 2019/2020 budget after domestic revenue collections fell short by 9%, amid delays in implementation of some planned tax-generating measures.