Here is a brief look at Press TV Newsroom's headlines from 0900 GMT to 1700 GMT, December 31, 2018.
Hailing Palestinian resistance
Leader of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei says resistance is the main reason behind victories of the Palestinian nation in recent years. Ayatollah Khamenei added that as long as the Palestinian resistance persists, they will remain victorious in the face of Israel and the regime will further move towards its end. He stressed that the Palestinian nation will achieve final victory in near future. Iran’s Leader made the comments in a meeting with the secretary general of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad Movement, Ziad al-Nakhala in Tehran. Ayatollah Khamenei noted that Iran will continue to support Palestinians, despite pressures by arrogant powers. Ziad al-Nakhala said, for his part, that Palestinians in Gaza will remain steadfast in their cause, despite all difficulties.
Iran facilitating Afghan talks
Iran says it has held a meeting with a visiting Taliban delegation to advance peace in Afghanistan through facilitating talks between Afghan groups and the government. Iran's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said the meeting was held in Tehran on Sunday. He described the talks as extensive and long, adding that they were held with the willingness and knowledge of the Afghan government. Qassemi said Iranian officials also held similar talks with the Afghan government in Kabul prior to Tehran talks. The spokesman said half of the Afghan soil is under Taliban control, and therefore, the group is an important party when it comes to peace talks.
New evidence has emerged about the killing of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul. Turkish media have published video footage showing the transfer of several suitcases and plastic bags from the Saudi consulate to the Saudi consul's residence. The reports suggest that the baggage contained Khashoggi’s body parts. New audio recordings also reveal information about the events leading to and following the murder. The conversations prove that the killing was premeditated with gruesome details regarding the manner and process of the crime. The revelations are also published in a book by two Turkish journalists. Ankara says the murder of the Washington Post columnist was orchestrated by the highest ranks in the Saudi government. Riyadh, however, insists that the killing was a rouge operation.
Bahrain's high court has upheld a five-year jail sentence against the kingdom’s prominent rights activist Nabeel Rajab. According to a defense lawyer, the Court of Cassation rejected an appeal against the sentencing. Rajab is in prison on a number of charges, including criticizing Saudi Arabia's deadly airstrikes in Yemen and accusing Bahraini authorities of torture. International rights organizations have, time and again, described Rajab's detention as unlawful and in violation of his right to freedom of expression. The Manama regime has launched deadly crackdown on dissent ever since a popular uprising engulfed the kingdom back in 2011. Thousands of people, including rights activists and opposition political figures have also been jailed.
DR Congo election
The opposition and the ruling coalition have both claimed victory in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s presidential election. The opposition says its candidates are neck-and-neck in the lead, both with over 40 percent of the vote. It also claims the ruling coalition candidate, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, has won only about 13 percent of the votes. But a member of Shadary’s campaign says he has won the election. The claims followed Sunday’s disorderly election in which many Congolese were unable to vote due to an Ebola outbreak, conflict and logistical problems. The vote, which has been marred by violence, is meant to choose a successor to President Joseph Kabila after 18 years in power.
New Year celebrations
The world is ushering in the New Year, with millions across the globe marking the beginning of 2019 with celebrations on the stroke of midnight. The city of Auckland in New Zealand was the first to celebrate the New Year with massive fireworks lighting up the skyline. Thousands of people gathered to watch the spectacular multi-colored firework from Auckland's Sky Tower. Fireworks kicked off next in Australia, where revelers gathered outdoors for a massive colorful display above Sydney’s iconic Opera House. Japan, China and Philippines will be the next countries to bid farewell to 2018.