World News in Brief: February 18

Tuesday, 2020-02-18 11:19:08
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Thailand's economy grew by 2.4 percent in 2019, lower than the previous estimate of 2.6 percent, said the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC) on Monday (February 17). The NESDC has also adjusted down its growth estimate for 2020 from 2.7-3.7 percent to 1.5-2.5 percent.

* Indonesia was unanimously elected as the chairperson of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) Governing Council for the period 2020-2022, the Indonesian Foreign Ministry said on Monday. It was elected at the 43rd Session of the Steering Council in Italy that was held between February 11-12.

* A total of 1.74 million Chinese tourists visited the Philippines in 2019, a 38.58 percent increase from 2018, data from the Philippine Department of Tourism (DOT) showed on Monday.

* The number of foreigners staying in the Republic of Korea topped 2.5 million for the first time last year, local media reported Monday citing data from the Ministry of Justice. As of the end of 2019, 2,524,656 foreigners were residing in the country, surpassing the 2.5 million mark for the first time. It was up 6.6 percent from a year earlier.

* European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen met US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as the latter paid a visit to the EU headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, Feb. 17, 2020.

* The success of the joint Russian-Serbian army exercises and the two countries' military-technical cooperation demonstrate a positive trend, the defense ministers of the two countries, Sergei Shoigu and Aleksandar Vulin, agreed during their meeting in Belgrade on Monday.

* The Palestinians are calling on the international community to help resolve their conflict with Israel, while rejecting the US peace plan, known as "The Deal of the Century".

* Belarus has expressed its disappointment with the European Union's decision to extend sanctions against it for next year. In a statement, the country's foreign ministry called the EU restrictions groundless remnants of the past that inhibit political dialogue. On Monday, the European Council extended restrictive measures against Belarus for a year until Feb. 28, 2021.

* The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Statistical Forum was kicked off on Monday in the Omani capital of Muscat, serving as a platform to boost information technology of the GCC countries.

* Canadian investment in foreign securities reached CAD13.8 billion (about US$10.4 billion) in December 2019, led by purchases of equity instruments, according to Statistics Canada on Monday. Meanwhile, foreign investors reduced their holdings of Canadian securities by CAD9.6 billion (about US$7.3 billion), mainly in the form of bonds.

* A suicide blast hit a police vehicle on Monday evening in Pakistan's southwest provincial capital Quetta, leaving eight persons dead and 19 others injured, officials said. No group claimed the attack yet.

* Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday called on Germany to join the international mechanism he proposed to sponsor negotiations between Palestine and Israel. Abbas made the remarks during a telephone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the Palestinian state-run news agency (WAFA) reported.

* The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) said Monday that there is no imminent solution for the agency's financial crisis, the National News Agency reported. UNRWA has been facing financial challenges after the United States halted its funding to the agency.

* World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said in Athens on Monday that they are to consider creating an international center in Greece.