*** The Iraqi army has thwarted a UAV attack on the Balad airbase, which is manned by U.S. troops north of Baghdad
*** China reiterates its opposition to unilateral US sanctions on Iran at a meeting between Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and its Iranian counterpart Hussein Amir Abdullahian, while expressing support for efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran
*** The new US Ambassador to Israel, Thomas Neidas, announced that he would not visit Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories "under any circumstances," emphasizing that the two-state solution is best for both peoples and that Israel has an interest in remaining a Jewish state.
*** The clashing Palestinian factions are to officially travel to Algeria to activate the frozen reconciliation case, the first delegation will be Fatah-led by Azzam al-Ahmad followed by a Hamas delegation in the middle of the month, followed by the Popular Front and the Democratic Front, and the last delegation to arrive in Algeria. Islamic Jihad at the end of the month "
*** EU Foreign Minister Joseph Burrell says the atmosphere of negotiations for the renewal of the international nuclear deal with Iran is "better" than it was before the end of the year, adding that an agreement can be reached in Vienna "in the coming weeks".
*** The head of the political arm of the Islamic Jihad movement and a member of its political bureau, Muhammad al-Hindi, announced that a delegation from the movement would leave for Algeria at the end of the month to discuss its initiative to reconcile the Palestinian factions. Algerian President Abd al-Majid Tabun hosted in Algeria PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas who welcomed his initiative.