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This is BBC World News Today.
I'm Karin Giannone.
Our top stories...
President Putin says Russia has
foiled a terror attack planned
on Saint Petersburg -
and has thanked Donald Trump for CIA
information which helped
track down the suspects.
Turkey's President Erdogan says he
wants to open a Turkish Embassy for
Palestinians in East
wants to open a Turkish Embassy for
Palestinians in East Jerusalem.
South Africa's ruling party gets
closer to choosing its next leader.
The two main contenders have been
formally nominated and voting is
And the Pentagon admits to running
a top-secret investigation
into the existence of alien life
Welcome to world news today.
The White House has confirmed
that the CIA provided intelligence
to Russian security services that
helped foil a terror attack.
Russian agents raided a flat
allegedly used as a base to plan
an attack on the Kazan cathedral
in St Petersburg.
The officers seized
explosives and weapons.
Seven people were detained
on charges of being members
of so-called Islamic State.
The suspects were reportedly
planning to carry out a suicide
attack at the Kazan Cathedral in St
Petersburg on Saturday.
President Putin has thanked
the US for its help.
The BBC's David Willis has
more from Washington.
He says this isn't the only recent
call between the leaders.
It appears to be a telephone
conversation, the second
between these two leaders
in the space of just three days,
in which Vladimir Putin thanked
Donald Trump and asked him to convey
Russia's thanks to the CIA
and to its intelligence officials
for the information that was needed
to foil this attempted attack,
or alleged attempted attack,
on St Petersburg, on the cathedral
there, an iconic cathedral,
and other parts of the city
which are known to be of prime
interest to tourists
from around the world.
What's interesting about this
is that the two leaders themselves
really do appear to be very chummy
with each other.
I mentioned just last week
there was a conversation
between them as well.
That followed Vladimir Putin's
annual press conference,
in which he heaped praise
on Donald Trump's handling
of the US economy.
And they've chosen to make the fact
that they've had this
conversation very public?
Yes, and all this comes at a time
when there is a special prosecutor
looking into allegations...
Well, they're not allegations,
the claims, the agreed claims
of the US intelligence agencies that
Russia meddled in the outcome
of last year's presidential election
here in the United States.
The Special Counsel also looking
into the prospect that the Trump
campaign may have colluded
with Russia, as far
as that is concerned,
yet we have a situation
where Donald Trump and Vladimir
Putin seemed to be getting
on like a house on fire.
In stark contrast, I might add,
to the relationship that
President Trump has had lately
with traditional American allies,
Britain, for example.
He's been critical of
Theresa May and, indeed,
Germany's Angela Merkel as well.
David Willis there talking to me
earlier and mentioning special
counsel Robert Mueller,
who is investigating alleged links
between Donald Trump's election
campaign and the Russian
Well a spokesman for
Mr Mueller has been defending
the investigation, saying
the appropriate criminal
process is being followed
in all of the probe's dealings.
Lawyers representing the Trump
presidential transition team accused
Mr Mueller of unauthorised access
to tens of thousands of emails.
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip
Erdogan has announced that he wants
to open an embassy for Palestinians
in East Jerusalem.
The Turkish leader has been one
of the most vocal opponents
of Donald Trump's decision
to recognise Jerusalem
as the capital of Israel and last
week led calls for it to be
recognised as the capital
of a Palestinian state.
Here's President Erdogan
at a rally earlier.
Since Jerusalem is
currently under occupation, we can't
go there and open our embassy. But
our Consulate general is represented
by an ambassador. God willing, the
day is close when officially, with
God's permission, we will open up
our embassy there.
Joining me as a
nonresident policy analyst in
Washington. Why do you think he has
spoken out like this?
There are a
couple of reasons. This would be a
significant, symbolic step. We know
that Turkey has lost its clout over
the last few weeks. Trump's blunder
on Jerusalem provided Iran an
opportunity to redress Turkey's
relations with the Arab world. At
least it would make a boosting image
for Erdogan and the Turkish
government. They see this meeting
and stumble, with 57 members, as a
He is trying to
assert himself as a global defender
of Sunni Muslim interests?
there are many issues here. We need
to look at the relationship between
Turkey and the United States
specifically. In this meeting,
Erdogan used strong words against
the Trump administration. It may be
usual to hear from Erdogan slamming
the United States, but not
necessarily the Trump
administration, because we know that
initially there was a major hope
from Ankara, from the
administration. Lately, there is
major frustration, especially with
the case in New York, the court
case, which is also holding Turkish
banks accountable for invading Iran
sanctions two years ago. There is a
major frustration. Erdogan Comer
claiming it is politically
motivated. Wyatt is related, the
question about Jerusalem, and other
issues, it is very, I think,
important to understand the
relationship. Now Erdogan's domestic
and international constituency would
see an outcome of the New York case
as politically motivated, perhaps.
We haven't got much time. One last
question, do you think this is just
rhetoric, just symbolism, or are we
going to see them take any concrete
steps to do something about it?
There might be concrete steps, but,
at the end, in terms of the
relations in general, Turkey and
Israel relations have ups and downs,
especially strained and turbulent in
the last few years, there would not
be a major difference in terms of
the Palestinian issue. There might
be some outcome in terms of the
Ankara and Washington relations,
especially Erdogan's relations with
the Trump administration.
At least eight people have been
killed and dozens of others injured
after a suicide bomb attack
on a methodist church in Pakistan.
It happened in the city of Quetta,
which has been the scene of a number
of attacks in the past year.
Tom Burridge has more
A celebration ahead of Christmas,
targeted by extremists.
Pakistan's police and army,
firing shots in the aftermath
as they surrounded the church.
Earlier, the attackers' efforts
to get in and kill as many
as they could captured on CCTV.
Watch the man in brown,
who suddenly reveals a machine gun
and starts to try to access
the church compound.
His accomplice, behind him
in white, falls over.
It takes them a long
time to climb the gate,
but it is chilling to watch,
as the men wearing suicide
vests exchange shots
with security guards,
imagine the panic
in the church nearby.
Officials say one of
the attackers was shot dead
at the entrance to the compound.
A second man detonated his vest
near the church door.
The bodies of those killed,
brought to the local mortuary.
Too much for relatives,
their loved ones killed
a week before Christmas.
At local hospitals, those injured
spoke of their fear as the attackers
did all they could to get
inside the church.
We were all in
the church and when we heard gunfire
we closed the doors.
The firing continued for a while.
Then there was an explosion
by the church door.
The group that calls
itself Islamic State
for the attack, which
described as cowardly.
Let's take a look at some of
the other stories making the news.
A British government
worker has been murdered
in the Lebanese capital Beirut.
The body of Rebecca Dykes was found
by the side of a road
in the city on Saturday.
She had been working
since January as a programme
manager for the Department
for International Development,
based at the British embassy.
Her family say they are
devastated by her loss.
Police in Ukraine have clashed
with suporters of the opposition
leader Mikhail Saakashvili.
They fired tear-gas
at a crowd which tried to get
into the October Palace in Kiev,
after a rally against
President Petro Poroshenko.
No serious injuries
have been reported.
Polls have closed in the final round
of Chile's residential election. The
Conservative former President won
the first round, but pollsters say
his only challenger this time has
narrowed the gap in second-round
In South Africa, delegates
from the ruling ANC have started
voting to elect a successor
to President Jacob Zuma
as party leader.
We now know that the new leader
will be one of two people: deputy
president Cyril Ramaphosa or former
foreign minister Nkosazana
Dlamini-Zuma, who is one
of the president's former wives.
The victor is likely to become
the country's next President
after elections in 2019.
The BBC's Milton Nkosi,
who's outside the ANC
conference in Johannesburg,
says it will be
a close-fought contest.
The infighting has been as better --
and bitter as they get. The
infighting had been worse than
anybody thought the ANC would be
suffering in postapartheid South
Africa. Everyone I have spoken to,
the experts, the delegates, the spin
doctors, they are telling me it is
going to be a photo finish. I also
think that the margin will be so
tight that it is hard to predict who
will now, as we speak, be the next
President of the African National
Congress. Therefore, potentially,
the next President of South Africa.
Jacob Zuma's time as President of
South Africa has taken its toll on
the ANC. What challenges will his
Jacob Zuma will have his or her work
cut out for them. The challenges
that South Africans are facing on a
day-to-day basis are immense. There
is high unemployment, hovering
around 28%. You have poverty and
inequality. Those are the
difficulties that any President will
have to try to clear up before they
can say they are getting a hold on
running South Africa.
Austria's new government is due
to be sworn in on Monday,
after the far-right Freedom Party
agreed to join
a coalition government.
It'll be the junior partner,
alongside the conservative
People's Party, taking charge
of the foreign, interior
and defence ministries.
So what does the Freedom Party
stand for and has it
influenced European politics?
Bethany Bell has more from Vienna.
A campaign video for the far right
Freedom party. A couple wakes up to
discover their home has been overrun
by strangers. The video avoids
xenophobic images, but the message
is clear. Austria, for the
Austrians. Support for the Freedom
Party soared during the migrant
crisis of 2015. Then strip's
Conservative Party, and a Sebastian
Kurz, also moved to the right. But
now he has formed a coalition with
the far right. It is controversial.
The party, a major force in
politics, was founded by former
Nazis in the 1950s. Observers say
their policies have helped set the
agenda, not only in Austria but
Of course the Freedom
Party is traditionally a far right
party. However, what you have seen
in the last years is that many other
parties in Europe and Austria have
taken over their issue positions. In
that sense, I think they set a
certain tone all over Europe.
Mayor is from the Freedom Party. He
says it is not an extreme right
movement and people should not be
TRANSLATION: We are a
right-wing party, it is true. We are
also a Homeland party. But we stand
by European values. We stand for
democracy and human rights, and I
can't understand where this fear
The past still troubles
the party. This recently published
photo shows a Freedom Party
politician apparently giving a
Hitler salute. He denied the charge,
but also did not take up his seat in
the upper house of parliament. In
the year 2000 there were huge
protests against the Freedom Party
when it joined a previous
government. Back then, the EU even
imposed limited diplomatic sanctions
on Austria. There was an outcry in
Austria and across Europe. Today, EU
sanctions are very unlikely.
Austria's new leader, Sebastian
Kurz, has pledged to form a pro-EU
government. Austria has changed,
Europe has changed and now some
people are wondering if the Freedom
Party has also changed.
Stay with us. Coming up, as the
Pentagon admits to investigating
UFOs, we will ask an expert what
they might be looking for and why.
After eight months on the run,
Saddam Hussein has been tracked down
and captured by American forces.
Saddam Hussein is finished.
Because he killed our people,
our women, our children.
The signatures took only a few
minutes, but they brought a formal
end to three and a half years
of conflict, conflict that has
claimed more than 200,000 lives.
Before an audience of world leaders,
the presidents of Bosnia,
Serbia and Croatia put their names
to the peace agreement.
The Romanian border
was sealed and silent today.
Romania has cut itself off
from the outside world in order
to prevent the details
of the presumed massacre
in Timisoara from leaking out.
From sex at the White House
to a trial for his political life.
The Lewinsky affair tonight
guaranteed Bill Clinton his race
in history as only the second
President ever to be impeached.
This is Bbc World News Today.
President Putin says that Russia has
foiled a terror attack and he has
thanked Donald Trump for CIA
information which helped.
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip
Erdogan says he wants to open
a Turkish embassy for Palestinians
in East Jerusalem.
Breaking news coming from the BBC.
Sir Mo Farah has just won the 2017
Sports Personality Of The Year
award. He saw off Jonathan Ray and
Johnnie Peacock, who came in second
and third place. Talking from
London, he said he was delighted to
have won. I am sure we will hear
from him in due course.
The US defence department has
acknowledged running a secret
multi-million dollar program
to investigate UFOs.
The New York Times says the program
was launched ten years ago
at the request of former
Democratic Senator Harry Reid.
The program is reported to have cost
the Department of Defense more
than $20 million.
Let's speak to Sarah Spellman, from
Of Phenomena. Are you surprised to
hear of a programme at this run by
the US governed?
It is an
interesting revelation we are
finding out about this now. I am not
entirely surprised. At the same
time, it is new information. It is
really an interesting announcement
to have come out.
Some might say
that this is using government money
to fuel conspiracy theories. What do
you think about the necessity or
otherwise of a programme like this?
That is one take on it. Sure, from
the government's perspective, they
are always go to be looking at
defence threats. Security threats,
things of that nature. What we have
to look at when we are getting
information from them as members of
the public is what were their
objectives and what can we find out
about it from our perspective. Yes,
it was over $22 million that was
spent on the programme. What we
don't know is the outcomes of that
yet. It has been mentioned about
remains of physical craft, alloys
that were studied, different metal.
Physical data coming out would be
really interesting to find out
eventually. Unfortunately we don't
have that at this point.
Do we know
anything about what they were
were investigating sightings of
unidentified flying objects. So,
UFOs. Saying UFO does not mean it is
necessarily from outside of our
solar system or anything we cannot
explain. At the time, it was not
explainable. So, strange things in
the sky. They also spoke to people
that claimed to have been in the
proximity of what they thought to be
non-earthly ships or aircraft. They
examined some of the physical
symptoms those people have. There
were also given, by the government,
a subcontractor programme, it was
run by Bigelow Aerospace and the
Pentagon allegedly gave them certain
materials to analyse. Unfortunately,
we haven't got data to look at.
they had found something tangible,
would they have necessarily revealed
that two us, the public?
is the question. Until the news came
out quite recently we were not aware
of the multi-million dollar
programme running from the Pentagon
from 2007 until 2012. It does pose
the question, if it was happening
then, what is happening now that we
are not aware of? It doesn't mean
there is anything, it just means
that we cannot say one way or
We are out of time, thank
you very much.
Now the sport.
Jose Mourinho has vowed
that his Manchester United side
would "fight until the last match"
after they moved back to within 11
points of Premier League leaders
Manchester City courtesy of a 2-1
victory at West Brom.
Romelu Lukaku opened the scoring
for his second goal in as many games
before Jesse Lingard doubled
United's lead before the break.
The visitors appeared to be heading
for a comfortable win until Albion
substitute Gareth Barry poked home
from close range
with 13 minutes left.
United though holding on for the win
to go 3 points clear
of 3rd placed Chelsea.
They are really strong, they are
really aggressive, they can put
teams under pressure. We didn't have
problems because we had so much of
the ball and we had so much control
by having the ball. But we knew that
at any time a situation could arise.
It was that situation that woke of
the stadium, gave them the belief
that they didn't have until that
moment and put us a little bit under
pressure. But I think the
performance was really good.
Liverpool moved back
into the top four after
hammering Bournemouth 4-0.
There were goals for
Philippe Coutinho, Dejan Lovran
before Mo Salah got his 11th goal
in 11 games, his 20th of the season
to end the tie as a meaningful
contest after only 44 minutes.
Roberto Firmino then adding a 4th.
their unbeaten run in all
competitions to 12 matches
It is very important, of course, two
draws in the last few games. Both
games we should have won and we
didn't. We have to accept that. You
need to show why you really are part
of this fantastic league. Of course,
we are Liverpool, so we have to show
that we have to at least try with
everything to win.
Over in Spain, we're halfway
through the second half as Barcelona
welcome Deportivo La Coruna
to the Camp Nou.
The Catalan Giants on their way
to going 6 points clear of second
placed Atletico Madrid.
Two Luis Suarez goals.
Barcelona cruising to victory.
Real Madrid not in action this
weekend of course after winning
the FIFA Club World Cup.
Their next match will the hotly
anticipated Clasico on the 23rd.
Justin Rose continues his wonderful
run of form winning
the Indonesian Masters in Jakarta
by 8 strokes.
The world number six
sealing his third tournament
victory in seven weeks.
Rose played 30 holes on his final
day, after stormy weather continued
to disrupt the tournament.
He ended up carding
a 72-hole total of 29-under.
the 18-year-old from Thailand,
hit 65 to finish second but Rose
picking up his first
Asian Tour Title with his largest
ever winning margin at a tournament.
Marcel Hirscher dominated the field
at Alta Badia in Italy to take
a record 5th straight Giant Slalom
win finishing nearly two seconds
ahead of his nearest challenger
The six-time World Cup
winner started the day
tied with another great,
Italy's Alberto Tomba,
on four giant slalom wins.
And having posted the fastest
time on his first run,
he increased his lead on the second.
It's Hirscher's third
World Cup win of the season,
and the 48th of his career so far.
The Olympic Super-G champion
Anna Veith won her first World Cup
race since suffering a serious knee
injury more than two years ago.
She beat Tina Weirather
of Lichtenstein and Italy's Sofia
Goggia, by almost half a second
at Val d'Isere in France.
The 28-year-old Austrian's last win
was in the giant slalom
at Meribel in March 2015,
the year she won the overall
World Cup title for the second time
And that's all the sport for now.
But before we go, there is news that
Mo Farah has won the Sports
Personality Of The Year. He retired
from the track after the World
Championships in London. Our top
story, Russia's President Putin has
acknowledge the help of the CIA in
preventing terror attacks in St
Petersburg. He said he told
President Trump the information has
helped to track down a terrorist
group that was preparing attacks,
apparently on Kazan Cathedral and
other public places. It was planned
for this weekend on Saturday. If you
want to get in touch on Twitter,