World/Int'l (202)


Japan has temporarily withdrawn its ambassador to South Korea, amid an escalating row over a statue representing wartime sex slaves.

The statue was installed by activists outside the Japanese consulate in the South Korean city of Busan last month.

South Korea has long called for reparations for "comfort women", who were forced to work in Japanese military brothels during World War Two.

Japan says the statue violates a previous agreement on the issue.


Russia is starting to withdraw forces from Syria and its aircraft carrier group will be the first to leave, the Russian armed forces chief says. 

General Valery Gera-simov said the Russian defence ministry is beginning to reduce its armed forces deployment in Syria.
The Russian naval flotilla is led by the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuz-net-sov.
The UN says a ceasefire in Syria is largely holding but Russian bombers have carried out heavy air strikes on anti-government rebels.

Director of National Intelligence, General James Clapper says the reason why Russia allegedly meddled in the US election will be revealed in a report to be published next week.
Intelligence agencies say the Kremlin ordered the hack of Democratic emails.
Russia has denied involvement but the US has announced sanctions against Russian officials.
A report on foreign meddling in US elections was given to President Barack Obama on Thursday.
President-elect Trump is to be briefed on the report on Friday and the unclassified version will be made public next week.


Downing Street has described the UK's new ambassador to the European Union, Sir Tim Barrow as a "seasoned and tough negotiator", who will bring "energy" to Brexit talks.

Barrow takes on the role as discussions with the EU are expected to start soon and promised to work for the "right outcome".
He replaces Sir Ivan Rogers, who quit earlier this week, accusing ministers of "muddled thinking".
Some Members of Parliament have accused Sir Ivan of being "half-hearted" towards Brexit.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to give what is being billed as a "major" speech on Brexit within the next few weeks.

The trial of Choi Soon-sil, the woman at the centre of an influence-peddling scandal involving South Korea's president, has gone under way.

Choi, a close friend of President Park Geun-hye, is charged with abuse of power and attempted fraud.

Separately, the Constitutional Court began considering President Park's impeachment over the scandal.

That trial, where the court must ratify or overturn a parliamentary impeachment vote, began despite Park's absence.

Both cases centre on allegations that President Park gave Choi unauthorised access to government decisions and allowed her to exploit their close relationship to solicit money from corporations for foundations from which she benefitted.









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