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Saudi-Yemen peace talks

Representatives of Yemen’s Ansarullah movement and a mediation team from Oman will be in Saudi Arabia to negotiate a permanent ceasefire to the war on Yemen. Omani mediators landed in Sana’a before heading for the Arab kingdom. Ali Al-Qhoom with the political bureau of Ansarullah said negotiators will focus on the opening of airports, release of prisoners and withdrawal of foreign forces from Yemen. The Ansarullah official said the opening of Yemen’s major ports will also be negotiated. Saudi Arabia launched the war on Yemen in March 2015. Riyadh was assisted by forces from regional allies and equipped with weapons from the United States and certain European countries. Thousands of Yemeni people have been killed ever since, and there has been a humanitarian crisis in the country over the past years of conflict. The negotiations are hoped to lead to a permanent ceasefire.

Eurozone cuts growth outlook

The European Central Bank has lowered its outlook for the continent’s economic growth over the next three years. It has also raised interest rates to tackle soaring inflation. The raise by another quarter point took the interest rate to 4%. It is the highest level since the introduction of the euro in 1999. The bank signaled this will likely be its final move in an over-one-year fight against high inflation. This is the 10th consecutive rise in interest rates since 2022 after prices surged following the war in Ukraine. The central bank also raised its forecasts for inflation, with prices still going up at more than twice its target rate. On Monday, the European Union slashed its 2023 and 2024 economic growth forecasts, pointing in particular to recession in Germany. Inflation rate in the bloc has remained unchanged at 5.3% since August.

Russia-US tensions

Moscow says it is expelling two US embassy diplomats for liaising with a former staff member accused of collaborating with Washington in "illegal" activities. The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement it has summoned the US ambassador and told her the two diplomats must leave the country within seven days. It said the two have conducted illegal activities by collaborating with the former staff member Robert Shonov. Shonov was charged with collecting information for Washington on the war in Ukraine and other issues. The ministry said any act of interference by the US embassy in Russia’s domestic affairs would be suppressed. 

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