World News in Brief: August 8

Thursday, 2019-08-08 14:29:04
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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte declared that his country would never allow the United States to deploy missile systems on its soil. Although there exists the Mutual Defense Treaty between the Philippines and the United States, Duterte said late on Tuesday (August 6) that he would bar the entry of foreign weapons, including nuclear arsenal in the country since this is considered a violation of the Philippine Constitution.

* A medical contingent from the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) will visit Laos on a 14-day humanitarian medical rescue joint training and provide medical services for locals from Aug. 13 to 26.

* Pakistan on Wednesday (August 7) informed India to withdraw its high commissioner after the country decided to downgrade diplomatic relations and suspend trade ties with India during a national security committee meeting amid recent Kashmir tensions.

*Thousands of supporters of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro took to the streets in capital Caracas on Wednesday to protest fresh moves by the US to tighten sanctions against the ruling authorities.

* US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that the missile launches by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) would not dampen the environment for negotiations on denuclearization. Pompeo made the remarks during his joint press conference with visiting British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, highlighting Pyongyang's moratorium of nuclear and long-range missile launches, which he called as "good things."

* A letter by Iran, which asks the United Nations for pushback against US new sanctions, "is being circulated to the Security Council," a UN spokesman said Wednesday. Iranian UN envoy Majid Takht Ravanchi reportedly sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday to ask for pushback against the United States after it imposed sanctions on Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

* Turkey and the United States will immediately establish a Joint Operations Centre in Turkey for coordination and management of a planned safe zone in northern Syria, Turkish Defense Ministry said on Wednesday.

* An order by US President Donald Trump to freeze the Venezuelan government's assets and cut off its funds is an act of "gross interference" and a violation of the norms of international relations, China's foreign ministry said.

* Pedro Pierluisi, who was appointed Puerto Rico's governor a few days ago amid political turmoil, will have to step down, the island's Supreme Court ruled Wednesday, local media reported. The ruling likely means that Secretary of Justice Wanda Vazquez will take the island's top job, though she said earlier she didn't want the position.

* Turkey and the United States agreed to jointly establish a safe zone in northern Syria, the Turkish Defense Ministry said in a statement Wednesday. The talks between Turkish and the US military representatives have been completed on Wednesday, the statement said, and both side agreed to take measures as soon as possible to ease Turkey's concerns about its national security.

* US President Donald Trump on Wednesday urged the Federal Reserve to cut the benchmark interest rate at a faster pace and on a larger scale, saying the US central bank's "tightening" policy is a problem for the country's economy.

* Brazil's lower house of Congress on Wednesday approved a far-reaching pension overhaul bill aimed at reducing a huge budget gap, with the central economic reform proposed by far-right President Jair Bolsonaro now advancing to the Senate. The government says the bill will save the public purse BRL933 billion (US$235 billion) over the next decade.

* A senior United Arab Emirates official called for calm on Wednesday after clashes erupted between southern separatists and presidential guards in Aden, the seat of Yemen's government.

* Spain's acting prime minister Pedro Sanchez, who twice failed to be confirmed in his job last month, said on Wednesday he would work right up to a September deadline to form a government and avoid fresh elections.

* The leader of the Taliban Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada said on August 8 the United States had raised a cloud of doubt and uncertainty about an expected deal aimed at allowing it to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan and end its longest war.

* USA Today's headquarters in McLean, Virginia was evacuated Wednesday following a probably mistaken police alert of a man with a weapon at the building in suburban Washington D.C., the newspaper said.

* At least 16 people have died in India's western state of Maharashtra as heavy rains and overflowing rivers swamped five districts, forcing authorities to move more than 140,000 people to safer places, a government official said on Wednesday.