World News in Brief: September 19

Thursday, 2019-09-19 11:53:08
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At a seminar entitled "Connecting Thailand with the World" on Wednesday (September 18) in Bangkok, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said that moving the capital is a possibility to prevent overcrowding. He said that moving the capital is just an idea and would require extensive research as to the economic and social impacts but it is a possibility under his administration.

* China's Ambassador to Iraq, Zhang Tao, said that the Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi's upcoming visit to China will mark a new phase in the Iraqi-Chinese relations as it will promote mutual cooperation between the two countries in the upcoming period.

* Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will hold talks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani next Tuesday in New York, a Japanese government official said Wednesday, amid rising tensions in the Middle East after the attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities.

* The risk of non-deal Brexit remains "very real," outgoing President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker told European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday.

* France will send experts to Saudi Arabia to help investigate the recent drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities, the French presidency said in a statement released on Wednesday.

* In a resolution adopted on Wednesday by 544 votes in favor, 126 against and 38 abstentions, members of the European Parliament (MEPs) overwhelmingly reaffirmed their support to the Withdrawal Agreement already signed by the European Union and the United Kingdom (UK).

* US Federal Reserve on Wednesday lowered interest rates by 25 basis points amid growing risks and uncertainties stemming from trade tensions and a global economic slowdown, following a rate cut in July that was its first in more than a decade. The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), the Fed's rate-setting body, trimmed the target for the federal funds rate by 25 basis points to a range of 1.75 percent to 2 percent after concluding its two-day policy meeting, largely in line with market expectation.

* Two people are missing after emergency workers on Wednesday recovered at least 29 bodies from the scene of a fire which broke out at a school near Liberia's capital, Monrovia, according to local authorities.

* Britain will definitely leave the European Union on October 31, no matter what, visiting British Secretary of State for Brexit Stephen Barclay said in Nicosia Wednesday.

* Russia's unemployment rate hit a historic low of 4.3 percent in August, down from the previous low of 4.4 percent registered in June, the Russian official statistics service Rosstat said Wednesday.

* US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that he has ordered a substantial increase in sanctions against Iran.

* UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Wednesday that all relevant parties in Syria have agreed on the composition of a committee tasked to rewrite the country's constitution.

* US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah on Wednesday, local media reported. The two discussed the response to the attacks that targeted two oil plants in east of the kingdom last Saturday, and reviewed coordination efforts to counter Iranian aggression in the region.

* Romania and Poland will work to strengthen cooperation in the fields of energy and infrastructure, the prime ministers of the two countries said on Wednesday.

* Israel's two main political blocs were in a deadlock after 95 percent of the votes in the national elections have been counted on Wednesday night, the Israeli Central Elections Committee said. The committee said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's main challenger, Benny Gantz and his centrist Blue and White party, won 33 seats in the 120-seat parliament. Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party secured 32 seats. The deadlock opens the door for a long period of coalition negotiations.

* Sri Lanka's Elections Commission announced on Wednesday night that the country's presidential elections will be held on November 16. The election date is set nearly two months before the incumbent's term ends. In a special gazette notification, the Elections Commission said candidates could present their nominations on October 7.

* US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo landed on Wednesday in Jeddah, a major city in Saudi Arabia, and blamed Iran for standing behind the attacks that targeted two Saudi oil plants. He is in a visit to discuss the response to the attacks that occurred on Saturday (September 14), which disturbed the international oil supply.

* Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday rejected talks with the United states over the mutual issues, while Washington maintains its "maximum pressure campaign" against Tehran.

* Yemeni government forces declared on Wednesday that a large minefield planted by the Houthi rebels in the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah was dismantled.

Xinhua