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Top stories from around the world in 2018

TOP INTERNATIONAL STORIES OF 2018

DONALD TRUMP

Donald Trump continued to dominate international news in 2018, upsetting friend and foe alike with his grandstanding style of America First politics.

His summits with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore in June, and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki in July, achieved less than expected.

He took credit for easing nuclear tensions on the Korean peninsula but caused outrage when he appeared to side with Putin in his denial of any Russian interference in the 2016 US election.

Trump also upset European allies and other nations in May by pulling the US out of a 2016 nuclear deal with Iran.

He wielded trade tariffs as a weapon, pointedly imposing massive imposts on Chinese imports, prompting retaliatory measures from Beijing.

Some easing of tensions occurred in December when the US and China agreed to halt additional tariffs in hopes of reaching a deal within 90 days.

Trump took a big hit in the November mid-term elections when Democrats won control of the House of Representatives, giving them power to block Republican legislation and initiate inquiries into the Trump administration.

The president suffered a further blow in December when Defence Secretary James Mattis resigned over his decision to withdraw US troops from Syria.

Trump ended the year in the midst of a partial US government shutdown as Democrats refused his calls for $US5 billion for a Mexican border wall.

THE SKRIPALS AND KHASHOGGI

Two nasty incidents involving state-backed assassination teams prompted worldwide condemnation of Russia and Saudi Arabia.

In March former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and daughter Yulia were found on a bench in the English city of Salisbury, poisoned with a nerve agent.

Moscow denied involvement but the UK and other Western nations expelled Russian diplomats in response. The Skripals recovered but an English woman exposed to the poison later died.

British authorities in September named and charged two Russian military intelligence officers in absentia over the poisoning.

The following month dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was assassinated in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

After initial denials the Saudi regime admitted a hit squad was involved but it denied that the kingdom's de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, ordered the killing, though the CIA concluded he did.

Trump, however, vowed the US would remain a "steadfast partner" of the Saudis, citing their purchases of billions of dollars of US weapons, their support for US policies in the Middle East and US interests in Saudi oil production.

WARS AND PROTESTS

Khashoggi's killing fuelled calls for renewed peace efforts in Yemen where Iran-backed Houthi rebels have been fighting former Yemeni government forces and a Saudi-led coalition.

Tens of thousands of people have died in the fighting or from an ongoing famine due to the civil war.

In Syria the Assad regime, with Russian military backing, gained the upper hand over rebels, reimposing control over large areas of the country.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict flared along the Gaza border as mass protests prompted sharp Israeli retaliation, with army snipers killing around 170 Palestinians.

BREXIT MESS

British Prime Minister Theresa May battled through the year to fashion a Brexit deal that the European Union finally agreed to.

But she put off a scheduled December 11 vote on the deal when it became clear it would not pass in a divided British parliament, including strong opposition by members of her own Conservative party.

The EU signalled it would not renegotiate the deal, meaning a chaotic no-deal Brexit looked more likely for the March 29 deadline in 2019.

Britain's EU "remainers" meanwhile, continued pushing for another referendum to give Britons the chance to vote to stay in the bloc after all the turmoil of trying to leave it.

VARIED DISASTERS

Disasters of all kinds took their human toll across the world during 2018.

In Indonesia, earthquakes in Lombok and Central Sulawesi, where a tsunami also hit, killed around 2500 people while the eruption of the Anak Krakatau volcano in the Sunda Strait triggered a tsunami that killed hundreds more on the coasts of Java and Sumatra.

Airliner crashes in Indonesia, Algeria, Cuba and Russia claimed more than 600 lives over the year.

In November the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in Californian history ripped through the town of Paradise, killing 88 people.

Other US states, including Florida and the Carolinas, took a battering from hurricanes Florence and Michael, with dozens killed.

Massive storms, including super typhoon Mangkhut in September, caused widespread destruction and many deaths in the Philippines, China, Japan and other Asian nations.

A series of mass shootings in America, meanwhile, claimed more than 60 lives, including 11 people gunned down at a synagogue in Pittsburgh in the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the US.

THAI CAVE BOYS

One emergency gripped the world's attention for weeks and ended in the dramatic rescue of a boys ' soccer team from a flooded cave in northern Thailand.

The Wild Boars, aged between 11 and 16, and their 25-year-old coach, became trapped on June 23 when a downpour flooded the tunnels.

British divers found the 13, hungry and huddled in darkness on a bank, 10 days after the boys entered the cave.

A multi-national rescue operation was launched and on July 10 the last of the boys were brought out, with Adelaide doctor and expert cave diver Richard Harris playing a key role.

ROYAL WEDDING

Another bright news event watched by millions around the world was the marriage of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

The fairytale wedding, in the ancient St George's chapel at Windsor Castle, had an American twist, with pastor Michael Curry delivering a fiery address on the power of love and a gospel choir singing at the event.

The newlyweds kissed on the chapel steps then climbed into an open horse-drawn coach to be driven past tens of thousands of cheering well-wishers cramming Windsor's streets to see them.

© AAP 2018