World News in Brief: December 23

China is set to meet its economic growth target of 6.5 percent this year, a senior official said Saturday (December 22). China's gross domestic products (GDP) will reach nearly US$13 trillion, said Ning Jizhe, deputy head of the National Development and Reform Commission, at a forum.

* The Russian Foreign Ministry said Saturday that international security and stability will be further undermined after a draft resolution in support to the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) was rejected in a United Nations vote.

* The US Senate has ended a short legislative day on December 22 and will hold its next legislative session on December 27, as negotiators continued to search for a way to end the partial government shutdown that began just after midnight.

* Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced that the inoperative Palestinian Authority (PA) parliament, better known as the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), was dissolved. He made the announcement in a speech addressed before a meeting for the Palestinian leadership, including Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee and his Fatah Party's Central Committee.

* A motorist was killed late on December 21 in a road accident linked to "Yellow Vest" movement in southern France, bringing the death toll to 10 since protesters launched demonstrations in mid-November against fuel tax rise, local media reported on December 22.

* Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed said on December 21 evening that Tunisia will overcome its difficult economic situation. In an interview broadcast on Tunisian private channel Attessia TV, Chahed said the government has been working to reduce the budget deficit, with fighting inflation and controlling prices as the priority for the coming period.

* Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani called Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on December 22 to express his support for Sudan after days of anti-government protests, Bashir's office said in a statement.

* West African leaders on December 22 discussed regional issues of common interest and concern including security, trade liberalization, and how to foster peaceful co-existence in the sub-region.

* US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin denied Saturday that President Donald Trump was considering firing the country's central bank chief, after the latest rate hike sparked such rumors.

* Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited Canadian troops deployed on the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali on December 22, according to CTV. Trudeau's visit was kept secret until after his departure due to security concerns.

* Morocco's admission into the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) remained pending as it was not on the agenda of the bloc's just concluded summit in the Nigerian capital of Abuja on December 22.

* Palestinian armed groups warned on December 22 that they will reconsider an Egyptian-brokered calm understanding reached with Israel after Israeli soldiers shot dead four Palestinians in eastern Gaza on December 21.

* Nearly 300,000 Syrians have returned to their homes after Turkish operations conducted in northern Syria, Turkish interior minister was quoted as saying on December 22.

* Libya's UN-backed Prime Minister Fayez Serraj and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu Saturday agreed to start a joint investigation on two shipments of weapons that came from Turkey to Libya.

* Three non-cabinet, 17 state and seven deputy ministers were sworn in before Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena on December 21 evening, a statement from the President's Media Division (PMD) said on December 22.

* The registration of candidates for Afghanistan's forth presidential elections began on December 22, the Afghan Independent Election Commission (IEC) said. The 12-day candidate nomination period started on December 22 and will end on January 2, according to the IEC website. The polls are expected to be held on April 20 next year.

* Death toll from Saturday's twin suicide car bombings near Somalia's presidential palace in capital Mogadishu has risen to 15 while several others were injured, officials said.