News Wrap: World leaders mark Christmas with messages of peace


HARI SREENIVASAN: Messages of peace marked
Christmas celebrations around the world today,
from the U.S. to the U.K. to the Vatican.
Pope Francis used his Christmas remarks to
call for a two-state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict.
Speaking to a crowd of thousands, he also
urged an end to confrontation on the Korean
Peninsula, as well as in Syria, Iraq, Yemen
and elsewhere.
POPE FRANCIS, Leader of Catholic Church (through
translator): Today, as the winds of war are
blowing in our world and an outdated model
of development continues to produce human,
societal and environmental decline, Christmas
invites us to focus on the sign of the child.
We see Jesus in the children worldwide wherever
peace and security are threatened by the danger
of tensions and new conflicts.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Britain’s Queen Elizabeth
used her Christmas address to remember the
victims of terror attacks in London and Manchester.
President Trump sent his Christmas greetings
today as well.
In a White House video with the first lady,
Mr. Trump urged Americans to — quote — “renew
the bonds of love and goodwill between our
citizens.”
Mr. Trump is spending his first Christmas
in office with his family at his estate and
private club in Palm Beach, Florida.
Elsewhere, it was a white, cold Christmas
for millions of Americans in the Northeast
and Great Plains.
Forecasts called for up to eight inches of
snow in parts of New England, while areas
in the Midwest saw windchill temperatures
well below zero.
Meanwhile, NATO soldiers in Kabul today donned
Santa hats and celebrated the holiday with
a roast turkey dinner.
In the day’s other news: Israel’s prime minister
praised Guatemala’s plan to move its embassy
in the country to Jerusalem.
The Central American nation is the first to
follow President Trump’s lead on the change.
Guatemala was among a small handful of countries
that voted against a United Nations resolution
denouncing Mr. Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem
as Israel’s capital.
The U.S. says it’s negotiated a significant
cut in the U.N.’s budget.
The U.S. mission to the U.N. said the body’s
2018-2019 budget would be slashed by more
than $285 million.
It wasn’t immediately clear how the change
would impact the U.S. contribution.
But Ambassador Nikki Haley said she wouldn’t
let the generosity of the American people
be taken advantage of.
Election officials in Russia have banned opposition
leader Alexei Navalny from running for president.
Navalny had been convicted in a fraud case,
which was seen by outside observers as a way
to sideline him.
After the decision, Navalny called for a boycott
of the election in March.
ALEXEI NAVALNY, Russian Opposition Leader
(through translator): I am saying with absolute
certainty that the decision of the Central
Election Commission to bar me from the election
will exclude millions of people from this
election.
It will exclude millions from the political
system itself, because it won’t allow them
to take part in the election in any way.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Navalny is seen as the most
serious challenger President Vladimir Putin
has faced, but Putin is expected to easily
win a fourth term in the March election.
Authorities in Vietnam are bracing for the
arrival of Tropical Storm Tembin.
It claimed some 200 lives in the Philippines.
About a million people are being evacuated
from Vietnam’s southern areas, where Tembin’s
winds and rain could start hitting tonight.
The government says thousands of fishing boats
shouldn’t go out to sea.
At least six people are dead after a suicide
bombing in Afghanistan’s capital.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility
for the attack.
The suicide bomber struck near the Afghan
National Intelligence Agency in Kabul.
At least three others were wounded.
The former authoritarian leader of Peru has
received a medical pardon.
Alberto Fujimori was serving a 25-year sentence
for human rights abuses, corruption and the
sanctioning of death squads.
The 79-year-old was in power in the 1990s.
Demonstrators took to the streets in Lima
protesting the current president’s decision
to pardon Fujimori.
They called the move a political deal.

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