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China encourages UK to remain in EU, Civil union law takes effect in Chile, Assad leaves Syria to visit Russia

China’s Jinping opines on UK-EU spat

While visiting the United Kingdom on Thursday, Chinese President Xi Jinping expressed that he wants to see a united European Union.

His remarks come at a critical time as the UK is expected to hold a national referendum on remaining in the EU. President Xi told UK Prime Minister David Cameron that Britain was an “important member of the EU,” before ending his four day visit.

Many officials have noted the economic and business interests at stake. During his stay, President Xi sealed multi-billion dollar deals and visited Manchester, where the government is seeking investment to create an area in the north that can challenge London’s economic dominance.

According to China’s foreign ministry, President Xi said, “China hopes to see a prosperous Europe and a united EU, and hopes Britain, as an important member of the EU, can play an even more positive and constructive role in promoting the deepening development of China-EU ties.”

Chilean same-sex couples see increased rights

Same-sex couples celebrated across Chile on Thursday as a new law recognizing their unions came into effect.

The new law makes it easier for both heterosexual and homosexual unmarried and co-habiting couples to share ownership of property and make medical decisions together.

Co-habiting Chileans who register under the new law will be able to claim pension benefits and inherit property if their civil partner dies.

According to government spokesman Marcelo Diaz, the new law would have been “unthinkable a few years ago” in the country, which is known to be one of the most socially conservative countries in the region — divorce was only legalized in 2004, and abortions remain totally banned.

The Law for All Families was passed this past January after years of lobbying by activists, who hail the legislation but note that it is only the first step on the road to greater progress for same-sex couples.

The Chilean government says as many as two million people are currently co-habiting and can now have their unions legally recognized.

Syria’s Assad takes a trip to the Kremlin

In his first known trip outside of Syria since 2011, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad arrived in Moscow on Tuesday. President Assad’s visit was not announced, however, until he arrived back in Syria on Wednesday.

According to posts on the Syrian president’s official Facebook page, he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin as well as Russia’s foreign and defense ministers.

President Assad’s visit comes amid Russia’s recent controversial and direct intervention in the Syrian war. Russia has announced that it is fighting terrorism in the region, namely the Islamic State, but the United States and its allies have accused Russia of targeting US-backed rebels and opposition groups.

Although the Kremlin published footage of the two leaders shaking hands and thanking each other, neither Syrian or Russian officials have announced an outcome from the meeting between the two leaders. President Putin praised President Assad for visiting despite the “dramatic” situation in Syria, and praised Syrian civilians for their courage.