World News Roundup: Indian court declares Mallya 'fugitive economic offender'; China's population set to peak at 1.44 bln in 2029
Following is a summary of current world news briefs.
Ecumenical Patriarch signs decree granting Ukraine church independence
The spiritual head of Orthodox Christians worldwide formally granted independence to the Ukrainian church on Saturday, marking an historic split from Russia which Ukrainian leaders see as vital to the country's security. The decree, granting "autocephaly", was signed by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at a service with the head of the Ukrainian church Metropolitan Epifaniy and President Petro Poroshenko in St George's Cathedral in Istanbul.
Former North Korean diplomat urges missing colleague in Italy to go to South Korea, not U.S.
A former North Korean diplomat who staged a high-profile defection to the South on Saturday urged an old colleague who has gone missing in Italy to defect to Seoul, following a report that he was seeking asylum in the United States. Jo Song Gil, the 44-year-old who was until recently North Korea's acting ambassador to Italy, disappeared with his wife after leaving the embassy without notice in early November, South Korean lawmakers said on Thursday.
Indian court declares tycoon Mallya a 'fugitive economic offender'
A court in India set up under anti-money laundering laws declared liquor and aviation tycoon Vijay Mallya a "fugitive economic offender" on Saturday, paving the way for the government to seize his assets, according to Reuters partner ANI. India recently approved a bill empowering authorities to seize assets of super-rich fugitives whose economic offences or crimes involve sums over 1 billion rupees ($14.3 million).
U.S. anti-Islamic State meeting turns to damage control after Syria decision
A routine U.S.-hosted conference of nations fighting the Islamic State militant group has become a damage control effort following U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from Syria, sources familiar with the matter said on Friday. The previously scheduled conference, tentatively set for Feb. 7 in Washington, aims to gather ministers from many of the 79 nations in the Global Coalition To Defeat Islamic State and galvanize their fight against the militant group.
China's population set to peak at 1.44 billion in 2029: government report
China's population is set to reach a peak of 1.442 billion in 2029 and start a long period of "unstoppable" decline in 2030, government scholars said in a research report published on Friday. The world's most populous country must now draw up policies to try to cope with a declining labor force and a rapidly ageing population, according to the summary of the latest edition of the "Green Book of Population and Labor" published by the China Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).
U.S. says no timeline for Syria withdrawal as fighting continues
The United States has no timeline to withdraw troops from Syria but does not plan to stay indefinitely, a senior State Department official said on Friday, a strong signal that forces could stay until the fight against Islamic State militants ends. U.S.-backed forces are still retaking territory from Islamic State in Syria, Pentagon officials said on Friday, two weeks after Washington said it would withdraw its roughly 2,000 troops there. At the time, President Donald Trump said the troops had succeeded in their mission and were no longer needed there.
Russia says it is not willing to exchange detained ex-U.S. marine: Interfax
Russia is not willing to exchange Paul Whelan, the former U.S. marine detained in Moscow on suspicion of spying, Interfax news agency quoted Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying on Saturday. "I see no reasons to raise this issue in context of exchanges. We should undergo all the procedures needed in this situation," Ryabkov said.
Taiwan president calls for international support to defend democracy
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen called on Saturday for international support to defend the self-ruled island's democracy and way of life in the face of renewed threats from China. Tsai's comments came days after Chinese President Xi Jinping said nobody could change the fact that Taiwan was part of China, and that people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait should seek "reunification".
Iran says despite U.S. sanctions, it has found new 'potential' oil buyers
All countries that were granted waivers from the United States to continue buying a certain amount of Iranian oil imports are complying with U.S. sanctions, a senior Iranian energy official said, noting that Tehran was hopeful to find new buyers. The United States withdrew from a nuclear deal with Iran last year and snapped sanctions in place to choke Iran's oil and banking industries, while temporarily allowing eight customers to keep buying crude from the Islamic Republic.
Moscow accuses Washington of detaining Russian citizen after arresting ex-U.S. Marine
The Russian Foreign Ministry said on Saturday the United States had detained a Russian citizen, days after Moscow arrested the former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan on suspicion of spying. Whelan was arrested by Russia's Federal Security Service on Dec. 28. His family have said he is innocent and that he was in Moscow to attend a wedding.
(With inputs from agencies.)
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- Trump-Kim summit: US special envoy to meet North Korean counterpart on Feb 6