World News in Brief: December 19

Wednesday, 2018-12-19 10:01:24
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The International Monetary Fund approved a new US$3.9 billion stand-by loan agreement for Ukraine, with a first tranche of US$1.4 billion to be disbursed shortly, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said in a statement on Facebook on December 18.

* Four blasts were heard in Yemen's main port city of Hodeidah on late on Tuesday (December 18) on the first day of ceasefire agreed between the Iran-aligned Houthi movement and the Saudi-backed government at U.N.-led peace talks last week, residents said.

* The British government said on December 18 it would implement plans for a no-deal Brexit in full and begin telling businesses and citizens to prepare for the risk of leaving the European Union without an agreement.

* China and Myanmar on December 18 held their fourth round of diplomacy and defense consultations in Kunming, capital of southwest China's Yunnan Province.

* The foreign ministers of Russia, Iran and Turkey on December 18 said in Geneva they have agreed to make efforts at convening the first session of the Syrian Constitutional Committee in early 2019.

* A US envoy on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is to visit the Republic of Korea (RoK), officials said on December 19, as Washington and Pyongyang struggle to find a breakthrough in their stalled talks aimed at ending the DPRK's nuclear programme.

* Belgium's King Philippe has not take a decision on whether to accept the resignation offered by Premier Charles Michel, the royal palace said on December 18.

* Bangladesh’s ruling Awami League unveiled its election manifesto on December 18, making sweeping promises to eradicate poverty and boost the economy as it seeks to retain power for a third straight term.

* White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said on December 18 that US President Donald Trump would attend the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland in January, 2019.

* Greek lawmakers ratified on December 18 the 2019 state budget, the first of the country's post-bailout era, which foresees 2.5 percent economic growth in the new year from 2.1 percent in 2018.

* European Union members on the UN Security Council on December 18 reaffirmed their commitment to the internationally agreed parameters for a solution ( two-state solution) to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

* France, eurozone's second biggest economy, would record slower growth this year as month-long blockades of the country's motorways and streets protests at the weekends during pre-Christmas shopping took a toll to domestic economy, Insee statistics institute forecast on December 18. In its economic outlook, Insee lowered its estimate for the whole year's economic performance by two percentage points to 1.5 percent.

* Saudi Arabia plans to increase state spending by 7 percent next year in an effort to spur economic growth that has been hurt by low oil prices, according to a 2019 state budget announced by King Salman on December 18. Spending is projected to rise to an all-time high of SAR1.106 trillion (US$295 billion), from an actual SAR1.030 trillion this year.

* Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on December 18 reiterated the Sudanese army's stay in the Saudi-led Arab coalition to restore legitimacy in Yemen, official SUNA news agency reported.

Xinhua, Reuters