Myanmar: army strikes Catholic church, one dead and five wounded
Today's headlines: Marcos in China to 'open a new chapter' in relations with Beijing; Seoul threatens to torpedo military pact with Pyongyang; to save money, Islamabad orders early closure of markets and shopping centres; no deal but 'positive' talks in first high-level summit between Ankara and Damascus.
The Burmese army bombed another Catholic church in Kachin State. The attack on the parish of Saint Michel (village of San Hka) took place on 30 December, but the news has filtered in these hours. The toll is one victim - a 52-year-old man - and five wounded. Soldiers have been striking since November, although no Kia (Kachin Independence Army) rebels are active in the area.
CHINA - PHILIPPINES
Philippine President Fernando Marcos is headed to Beijing for his first official visit and to open "a new chapter". He is scheduled to meet with his counterpart and host Xi Jinping and to hold discussions aimed at strengthening cooperation in the economic field. Also on the table are disputes in the South China Sea, agriculture, energy, infrastructure and investment.
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol is considering suspending the military pact signed in 2018 with Pyongyang if North Korea violates Seoul's airspace again. A sign of the further escalation of tension between the two neighbours, still formally at war since the 1950s. The agreement provides for a no-fly zone and the removal of anti-personnel mines.
In a bid to save energy and mitigate the effects of the crisis, Islamabad ordered shopping centres and markets to close by 8.30 p.m. Foreign currency reserves barely cover one month of imports and International Monetary Fund allocations have been delayed. The PM imposed a 30% reduction in consumption in government departments.
TURKEY - SYRIA
Ankara and Damascus have not reached any agreement, particularly on the withdrawal of the military from northern Syria, which would only be 'propaganda'. This was revealed by Turkish sources, although the governments of both countries judge the first high-level meeting (defence ministers) since the beginning of the war in 2011, which took place last week with Russian mediation, as "positive".
68-year-old Russian theatre director Dmitry Krymov suffered burns to 50% of his body after a mysterious fire broke out in his New York flat and was hospitalised on a critical prognosis together with his wife, who was also severely burned. The theatre director had spoken out against the war and in support of Ukraine, and left the country for this reason.
Imangali Tasmaganbetov, a 65-year-old representative of Kazakhstan, is the new secretary general of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (Csto), the 'Eurasian NATO'. A former prime minister and director of the presidential administration, he was akim (mayor) of Almaty when it was the capital, minister of defence and until December 2019 ambassador to Moscow, then retired.