World News in Brief: December 31

Tuesday, 2019-12-31 15:52:09
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The Mongolian economy grew around 7.3 percent year on year in 2019, compared to 1.2 percent in 2016, said Prime Minister Ukhnaa Khurelsukh in a New Year's message published on Tuesday (December 31).

* Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin exchanged New Year congratulations on Tuesday, pledging to further cement their countries' close and fruitful partnership.

* US President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin spoke over phone on December 29 on counterterrorism and bilateral ties, said the White House on December 30.

* An agreement on mutually lifting visas between China and Armenia will take effect on January 19, 2020, according to a statement released Monday (December 30) by the Armenian Foreign Ministry. The statement said that starting January 19, Armenian and Chinese citizens will be able to travel or transit in the host country's territory for up to 90 days within a period of 180 days without a visa.

* Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud and the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reviewed on Monday the regional developments over phone.

* Six people have been confirmed dead as of Tuesday afternoon after a tunnel under construction collapsed in north China's Shanxi Province, local authorities said Tuesday.

* The Arab League announced on Monday that an emergency meeting will be held on Tuesday to discuss the situation in the war-torn Libya.

* The Islamic Hamas movement on Monday denied holding any truce talks with Israel. Israeli media earlier reported that reaching a long-term truce for relaxation of the Israeli blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip "is looming."

* Over 50 Syrian refugees including 28 children aged under eight arrived in Ireland on Monday and will be resettled in the country under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme, national radio and television broadcaster RTE reported.

* 2019 was the third warmest year on record in Germany since regular weather measurements began in 1881, Germany's national meteorological service (DWD) announced on Monday. According to preliminary assessment from around 2,000 measuring stations, the average temperature in 2019 has been 10.2 degrees Celsius, 2 degrees above the value for the reference period between 1961 and 1990.

* Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on Monday seized a ship on suspicion of smuggling fuel in the Gulf waters near the island of Abu Musa, the state-run IRNA news agency reported. The authorities also detained the 16 Malaysian crew onboard the ship.

* Turkish police on Monday detained a total of 147 people in nine provinces, including foreign nationals, over their suspected links to the Islamic State (IS) militant group.

Xinhua