Following is a summary of current world news briefs.
At United Nations, U.S. faces strong opposition to its shift on Israeli settlements
The United States on Wednesday defended itself at the United Nations against strong opposition from the European Union and other world powers to the Trump administration's declaration that it no longer considers Israeli settlements to be in violation of international law. Monday's announcement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reversed a four-decade-old U.S. position on Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. The move was welcomed by Israel but drew condemnation from Palestinians and Arab leaders.
Widow of ex-KGB agent backs legal action for release of UK's Russia report
The widow of a Russian dissident murdered in London has backed a legal challenge to force Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government to publish a report on alleged Russian meddling in British politics. The report by parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) was cleared by Britain's security services but Johnson's office has not yet released it, meaning it will not be published before the Dec. 12 election as parliament has shut to allow for campaigning.
Britain's Prince Andrew halts public duties over sex scandal
Britain's Prince Andrew stepped down from public duties on Wednesday, saying the controversy surrounding his "ill-judged" association with late U.S. financier Jeffrey Epstein had caused major disruption to the royal family's work. Andrew, Queen Elizabeth's second son, denies an allegation that he had sex with a 17-year-old girl procured for him by his friend Epstein, who killed himself in a U.S. prison in August while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.
Trump considering withdrawing up to 4,000 U.S. troops from South Korea: report
The United States is considering withdrawing an armed forces brigade from South Korea if Seoul does not agree to a U.S. demand to contribute more to the cost of stationing troops in the country, a South Korean newspaper reported on Thursday. The United States broke off talks with South Korea on Tuesday after demanding Seoul raise its annual contribution for U.S. troop costs to $5 billion, over five times what it is currently paying, according to South Korean lawmakers.
Ready for change? Britain's Labour unveils 'radical' manifesto
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will unveil his opposition party's election manifesto on Thursday, setting out how in government he plans to transform Britain with "the most radical and ambitious plan" in decades. With three weeks before Britain votes in its second election in just over two years, Corbyn will press his message that only Labour can challenge the status quo, fighting for ordinary people against "bankers, billionaires and the establishment".
U.S. House to attempt quick passage of Hong Kong human rights bill: aide
The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday will attempt to quickly pass legislation unanimously approved by the Senate that aims to protect human rights in Hong Kong amid a pro-democracy movement there, a senior House aide said. Drew Hammill, a spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, told Reuters that the bill passed on Tuesday by the Senate would be brought to the House floor for passage. Republican Senator Marco Rubio was a main sponsor of the Senate-passed bill.
Suspected Islamist militants kill 19, burn church in eastern DR Congo
Islamist militiamen killed at least 19 people overnight in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, stepping up attacks on civilians in response to a military campaign against them in border areas with Uganda, local officials said on Wednesday. The assailants, who the officials said belong to the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan Islamist group, also kidnapped several people and torched a Catholic church during two separate attacks about 35 km (22 miles) apart.
Trump administration prepares to send asylum seekers to Guatemala
The Trump administration has begun an effort to send some asylum seekers encountered at the U.S.-Mexico border to Guatemala, a move that promises to transform the U.S. asylum system, according to three officials briefed on the initiative and related training materials. The program initially will be applied at a U.S. Border Patrol station in El Paso, Texas. The first phase will target adults from Honduras and El Salvador and the aim will be to process them within 72 hours, according to the three officials and notes from a training session of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) asylum officers taken by one of the officials.
Israel launches air strikes in Syria; Damascus says two killed
Israel said its aircraft struck dozens of Iranian and Syrian military targets in Syria on Wednesday in retaliation for rockets fired towards Israel a day earlier. Syrian state media reported two civilians were killed and several others injured in the attacks, but said Syria's air defenses destroyed most of the missiles fired by Israeli jets over Damascus, the capital, before they reached their targets.
Biegun confident on Korea, Japan troops talks, but no 'free ride'
President Donald Trump's nominee to be the next number two at the State Department said on Wednesday he was confident agreements could be reached with South Korea and Japan over the costs of hosting U.S. troops, but nobody would get "a free ride." "I'm confident we can do this through negotiations, but these are going to be tough negotiations," Stephen Biegun, the current special representative for North Korea, told a Senate Foreign Relations Committee nomination hearing.