World News in Brief: January 25

Saturday, 2020-01-25 15:18:58
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Billions of people around the world celebrate the Lunar New Year (also known by other names, including the Chinese New Year, Spring Festival, Seollal and Tet Nguyen Dan) on Saturday (January 25). The celebration marks the start of the Year of the Rat, the first animal in the 12-animal zodiac cycle according to the Chinese calendar, and it symbolizes new beginnings.

* Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Friday (January 24) urged his countrymen to remain united to maintain harmony in the multiracial country to ensure it would continue to prosper. Mahathir made the remarks in a televised speech as part of his Lunar New Year message.

* A total 1,626,309 Chinese mainland tourists visited the Philippines from January to November 2019, a 30.02 percent increase from the same period in 2018, data from the Philippine Department of Tourism (DOT) showed on Saturday.

* Brazilian President Jair Messias Bolsonaro arrived in New Delhi on Friday for a four-day state visit. The highlight of his visit will be on January 26 when he will be the "Chief Guest" for this year's Republic Day Parade in the Indian capital. India will hold the 71st Republic Day Parade this year.

* A powerful earthquake struck eastern Turkey late on Friday, killing at least 20 people and collapsing buildings in towns near the centre of the tremor, which was strong enough to be felt in several neighbouring countries. The magnitude 6.8 quake shook Elazig province, about 550 km (340 miles) east of the capital Ankara, and was followed by dozens of aftershocks.

* The Pentagon said on Friday that 34 service members had been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury following missile strikes by Iran on a base in Iraq earlier this month, a number higher than the military had previously announced. US President Donald Trump and other top officials initially said Iran's attack had not killed or injured any U.S. service members.

* A senior Palestinian official on Friday denied that the Palestinian Authority has held any talks with the United States over the "Deal of the Century." Earlier media reports said that U.S. President Donald Trump intends to declare soon his new peace plan in the Middle East, better known as the "Deal of the Century," which was rejected in advance by the Palestinians.

* President of the European Council Charles Michel said in Skopje on Friday that the future of North Macedonia is in the European Union (EU) and that he will develop strategy for opening the accession negotiations process.

* A supplementary budget worth JPY4.47 trillion (US$40.77 billion) for fiscal 2019, earmarked in part to underpin reconstruction efforts in Japan after a series of natural disasters, is likely to be approved by parliament next week, lawmakers were quoted as saying Friday.

* British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is mulling to use the threat of high tariffs to raise pressure on the European Union, the United States and other nations to strike trade deals with Britain, The Times newspaper reported on Saturday.

* Bolivia's interim President Jeanine Anez said on Friday that she will be a candidate in upcoming elections that will serve as a re-run of October's disputed vote that sparked protests and prompted former leader Evo Morales to resign.

* Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that his country and Germany share a large part of the burden of Syrian refugees. Turkey is hosting over 3.6 million Syrian refugees on its soil, costing more than US$40 billion until now.

* UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Jan Kubis expressed on Friday his optimism about the new government's ability to implement reforms after his meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab. Lebanon formed a new government on Tuesday.