U.S. President Donald Trump spoke over phone with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Saturday, discussing issues concerning the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and Iran, said the White House.
The two leaders talked about the developments related to Iran and the DPRK, said Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere in a series of tweets posted on Saturday night.
Trump and Abe agreed to continue close communication and coordination, particularly in light of recent "threatening statements" issued by Pyongyang, the White House spokesman said.
The two sides also discussed such bilateral issues as trade relations, Deere added.
Denuclearization negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang have stalled since the second summit between the DPRK's top leader Kim Jong Un and Trump in Hanoi in February ended without a deal.
DPRK's Vice Foreign Minister Ri Thae Song warned early December that Washington would soon need to decide what kind of "Christmas gift" it will receive from Pyongyang.
U.S. special envoy for the DPRK Stephen Biegun said earlier this week that Washington would not be bound by a year-end deadline set by Pyongyang for progress in their denuclearization talks.
The phone conversation came one day after Abe's meeting with visiting Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in Tokyo. The two leaders held "heavy and intensive talks" over a host of issues including the Iran nuclear deal and "the U.S. anti-Iran sanctions", according to the Iranian Foreign Ministry.
Pakistani authorities said Sunday that mortars fired by Indian troops into Pakistan's portion of the disputed Kashmir region have killed three civilians and damaged nearly a dozen homes in recent days.
However, India's military blamed Pakistan's forces for initiating the shooting, calling it an "unprovoked ceasefire violation."
Although Pakistan and India often exchange fire in Kashmir, skirmishes have increased in the past several days.
Tensions in Muslim-majority Kashmir — which is divided between Pakistan and India but claimed by both in its entirety — have escalated since August. That's when India downgraded the autonomy of the portion of Kashmir it administers and imposed a lock-down.
Disaster management authorities and other officials in Pakistan's portion of Kashmir said several people have also been wounded when India allegedly targeted civilian population.
Pakistan's military says it returned fire in the past 72 hours, causing damages to Indian posts.
India's Lt. Col. Devender Anand, an Indian Army spokesman, said Pakistani soldiers had fired mortars and artillery shells and small arms at least at half a dozen places in the last three days. He added that the Indian soldiers "retaliated effectively."
The latest development comes as supporters from a radical Pakistani party, Jamaat-e-Islami, held a large rally in the capital, Islamabad, to express solidarity with people living in Kashmir.
Pakistan and India have fought two of their three wars on Kashmir after gaining independence from Britain in 1947.
The lawyer of an Iranian-British woman convicted on spying charges in Iran has asked that she be released after serving half of her sentence, a request that was immediately rejected by the Tehran prosecutors'office, the state IRNA news agency reported Sunday.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who works for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, was sentenced to five years for allegedly planning the "soft toppling" of Iran's government while traveling with her young daughter in Iran at the time. She was was arrested in April 2016. Her sentence has been widely criticized and her family has denied all the allegations against her.
The report by IRNA quoted her lawyer, Mahmoud Behzadi Rad, as saying that he had submitted a request for what Iran's judiciary calls "conditional release" — when a convict has served half his or her sentence, the person can apply for such a release and the courts have the power to grant it for "good behavior".
"According to the law, she is entitled to apply for a conditional release," the lawyer said.
IRNA did not say why the request was denied. Behzadi Rad said he had applied for a conditional release for another of his clients, prominent Iranian human rights activist Narges Mohammadi who is serving a 10-year sentence. Behzadi Rad is her lawyer, too. The request for her release was also denied, he said.
The lawyer also said that Zaghari-Ratcliffe has had several psychiatric evaluations recently while in prison but did not elaborate on her condition or the state of her health.
In England, Zaghari-Ratcliffe's husband, Richard Ratcliffe, has been leading a campaign to try to win his wife's release from prison. British officials are also calling for her release.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe went on a 15-day hunger strike in June, to call attention to her plight. In July, she was moved to the mental health ward of Imam Khomeini hospital under the control of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
The Free Nazanin Campaign said in a statement at the time that it does not know what treatment she is receiving or how long she is expected to remain in the hospital.
Iran has also detained at least one other Iranian-British national, anthropologist Kameel Ahmady, who has been accused of spying and of links to foreign intelligence agencies.
Iran does not recognize dual nationality for its citizens.
Queen Elizabeth II attended church near her rural retreat Sunday as her husband Prince Philip spent his second night in a London hospital.
Palace officials have not provided an update on the 98-year-old prince's condition following the announcement Friday that he was being admitted to King Edward VII Hospital as a precautionary measure due to a pre-existing condition.
It is not clear if Philip will be released in time to join the rest of the royal family for Christmas at Sandringham, the queen's country estate in Norfolk.
The queen has not altered her holiday routine and went to church Sunday as normal. The royal family is expected to attend another service on Christmas morning.
Buckingham Palace released a special holiday photo showing the queen making Christmas desserts with her son, Prince Charles, her grandson Prince William and her great-grandson Prince George. They are, respectively, the first, second and third-in-line for the British throne.
Thousands of protesters poured into the streets of Baghdad and Iraq's southern provinces on Sunday, rejecting the nomination of what some call an Iran-backed candidate for the prime minister's post. The demonstrations came ahead of a looming midnight deadline for naming an interim prime minister, but without a solution being reached.
The protesters closed roads in southern provinces including oil-rich Basra saying they won't accept the nomination of the outgoing higher education minister, Qusay al-Suhail.
Iraq's leaderless uprising has roiled the country since Oct. 1, and at least 400 people have been killed since. Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets in Baghdad and the predominantly Shiite south. They're decrying corruption, poor services and a lack of jobs, while also calling for an end to the political system that was imposed after the 2003 U.S. invasion.
Pressure from the demonstrations led Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi to resign late last month. That was after Iraq's most powerful religious authority, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, withdrew support for Abdul-Mahdi's government.
On Friday, al-Sistani, in his weekly sermon delivered by a representative, called for political blocs to form the government quickly. The Iran-born al-Sistani said that the new prime minister should be accepted by the public.
Iraq's constitution requires parliament's largest bloc to name a candidate for the premiership within 15 days of accepting the prime minister's resignation. That deadline expired last Thursday, but was extended until midnight Sunday.
The political deadlock has been worsened by a dispute over which bloc is actually the largest in parliament. The numbers have continued to change since last year's elections, with an unknown number of lawmakers leaving some blocs and joining others.
The Federal Supreme Court provided guidance in a statement Saturday, but stopped short of naming the largest bloc.
It said the decision should be based on parliament's first session after taking office last year. But the court also said it would accept if two or more lists had merged to become the largest bloc in that session.
Two Iraqi officials said President Barham Saleh sent the court's response to parliament, asking the legislature to say which is the largest bloc. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
There are currently two main blocs in Iraq's parliament: Sairoon, led by populist Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, and Fatah, which includes leaders associated with the paramilitary Popular Mobilization Units, headed by Hadi al-Amiri.
Al-Suheil was nominated for prime minister by Fatah and their allies.