Kosovo says army 'irreversible' ahead of UN meeting

Kosovo’s president said the country’s decision to build an army was “irreversible” before heading to a UN Security Council meeting on Monday about the move, which has drawn the ire of former war foe Serbia. The Kosovo parliament’s Friday vote to transform a lightly-armed emergency force into a standing army was carried out with strong support from the United States, which hailed the move as historic. At Serbia’s request, the UN Security Council will hold a public meeting on the issue Monday….

Car bomb kills 9 people in Syria's Afrin: monitor

A car bomb killed at least nine people including five civilians near a pro-Turkey rebel post in the northern Syrian city of Afrin on Sunday, a British-based war monitor said. The explosion comes after the Turkish president on Wednesday threatened to launch a new offensive against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria. The Observatory said the blast wounded dozens, and the toll was likely to rise….

Giuliani Says ‘Over My Dead Body’ Will Trump Meet With Mueller

Giuliani, who’d at times floated the possibility of a meeting in interviews over several months, didn’t answer directly when asked about a CNN report on Dec. 14 that Mueller wants to interview Trump in his investigation of Russia influence in the 2016 campaign. In a separate interview on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday, Giuliani was less definitive when asked whether it’s possible Trump will talk to Mueller….

French city honors victims of Christmas market attack

PARIS (AP) — People filled a square in the French city of Strasbourg on Sunday to show respect and sympathy for the victims of last week's shooting attack near a famous Christmas market as the death toll rose to five….

Lawyer says Mueller can interview Trump only 'over my dead body'

Rudy Giuliani said special counsel Robert Mueller and his team of prosecutors could not be trusted to deal fairly with the president, suggesting they had trapped another witness into committing perjury. Asked on “Fox News Sunday” about reports Mueller now wants a face-to-face interview to follow up on Trump’s submission of written answers, Giuliani shot back: “Good luck. Mueller’s 19-month-long probe into possible Russian collusion with the Trump election campaign has led to dozens of indictments for federal crimes and several guilty pleas or convictions….

Israel says 4th 'attack tunnel' found from Lebanon

Israel’s army said Sunday it has uncovered another Hezbollah “attack tunnel” leading from Lebanon into its territory, the fourth since it started a search-and-destroy operation this month. Israel says the Iranian-backed Shiite militant group has dug the infiltration tunnels for use in a future conflict, and the military has been working to eliminate them. The latest tunnel crossing into northern Israel was exposed at the weekend, the army said in a statement….

Anti-government protesters mass for 5th day in Hungary

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — A few thousand demonstrators gathered in freezing temperatures outside Hungary's state broadcaster Monday night in a fifth day of protests against the right-wing government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban….

Famed Brazilian medium accused of sex abuse surrenders

Famed Brazilian “spiritual healer” Joao de Deus, accused of sexually abusing hundreds of women under the pretext of treating them, surrendered to authorities on Sunday, Brazilian media reported. For years, he had received thousands of believers each week — including numerous celebrities — at his temple in the town of Abadiania, in Goias state, near the capital Brasilia….

Family of seven-year-old Guatemalan girl who died in US custody disputes official story

The family of a seven-year-old Guatemalan girl who died in Border Patrol custody is disputing claims made by US officials who said she had not eaten or consumed water for days. The parents of Jakelin Caal said the girl had been given food and water and appeared to be in good health as she travelled through Mexico with her father, 29-year-old Nery Gilberto Caal Cuz. Tekandi Paniagua, the Guatemalan consul in Del Rio, Texas, said Mr Caal told him the group they were travelling with was dropped off in Mexico about a 90-minute walk from the US border….

Is Yemen finally on the road to peace?

At the same time, the United Nations must prepare for critical discussions on a wider truce and a framework for political negotiations to end the conflict. The nearly four-year-old war, which has killed tens of thousands of people, pits the Iran-aligned Houthi group against other Yemeni factions fighting alongside the Saudi-led coalition trying to restore the government of Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. The Houthis, who ousted Hadi’s administration from the capital Sanaa in 2014, and their coalition foes are due to start implementing the Hodeidah ceasefire on Tuesday….

Strasbourg attack victims honoured

Several hundred people gathered in Strasbourg Sunday to honour the victims of an attack on the city’s popular Christmas market that left four dead. The ceremony, organised by local rights associations with the approval of the city authorities, included music, singing and several readings. Earlier Sunday, police in the eastern French city, which is home to the European Parliament, released two close associates of the attacker, Cherif Chekatt who was on a French list of possible extremist security risks….

Joe Biden tops key 2020 poll as he mulls whether he is too old to run for president

Joe Biden, Barack Obama’s vice-president, has emerged as an early frontrunner among Democrats vying for the 2020 presidential nomination with a dominant lead among voters in Iowa, who will be the first to state their preference next year. A new CNN/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll finds 32 per cent of likely caucusgoers saying they back Mr Biden as their first choice, ahead of 19 per cent for Bernie Sanders and 11 per cent for Beto O'Rourke, the telegenic campaigner who came close to an against-the-odds win in Texas last month. The results have Democrats salivating about a dream ticket that matches a 76-year-old veteran, who…