World News in Brief: April 17

Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said on Wednesday talks on a Gaza ceasefire and a release of hostages are at a "delicate phase".
The area of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) records around 40 new epidemics every year, a representative of the West African Health Organization said Tuesday.
The area of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) records around 40 new epidemics every year, a representative of the West African Health Organization said Tuesday.

* With a scheduled national election 18 months away, Canada's Liberal government tabled its annual federal budget on Tuesday that features 348 billion USD in spending this year with homebuilding incentives and higher taxes for the richest Canadians.

* Chinese Premier Li Qiang held talks with Federal Chancellor of Germany Olaf Scholz in Beijing on Tuesday, calling for a new level of bilateral relations with expanded mutual understanding and win-win results through dialogue and cooperation.

* Russia's Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday it had expelled one Estonian embassy official working in Moscow in a tit-for-tat retaliatory move. It said in a statement that the move was a response to what it called a baseless decision by Estonia to expel a Russian diplomat working in Tallinn.

* The Kremlin said on Wednesday that Russian peacekeepers will withdraw from Azerbaijan's Karabakh region. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was responding to a question about reports of a withdrawal in Azerbaijani media.

* New Zealand and Thailand will upgrade their bilateral relationship to a strategic partnership by 2026, the prime ministers of the two countries said on Wednesday.

* Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Tuesday ordered the closing of the country's embassy and consulates in Ecuador, in response to the raid on the Mexican embassy in Quito by Ecuadorian police on April 5.

* Bolivian President Luis Arce on Tuesday pledged support for Mexico's lawsuit against Ecuador at the Hague-based International Court of Justice (ICJ), over its raid of the Mexican embassy in Quito.

* Honduras is recalling its charge d'affaires in Ecuador to capital Tegucigalpa for consultations, the Central American country's foreign minister said in a post on X.

* Iran said on Wednesday its military was ready to confront any attack by Israel, with the air force saying it was prepared for action. Iran's navy commander said also that it was escorting Iranian commercial vessels to the Red Sea.

* Russia is in dialogue with both Iran and Israel and urged the need for de-escalation in the Middle East, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday.

* Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani on Wednesday called on Israel to halt its military operations in Gaza, reiterating that it was time for a cease-fire in the Palestinian enclave.

* The Israeli army has sent tanks to the northern Gazan city of Beit Hanoun and ordered residents to evacuate, the Hamas-run government media office said Tuesday.

* Israel's military offensive in the Gaza Strip has killed at least 33,899 Palestinians and wounded 76,664 since Oct. 7, the Palestinian enclave's health ministry said on Wednesday.

* Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi will visit Pakistan "very soon", Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Wednesday, as the Muslim neighbours look to mend ties after January's tit-for-tat missile strikes at what they said were militant targets.

* The International Organization for Migration (IOM) on Tuesday said that 584 migrants were rescued off the coast of Libya in the past week. From April 7 to 13, 584 migrants were intercepted and returned to Libya, IOM said in a statement.

* Monthly visitors to Japan hit a record high in March and crossed 3 million for the first time ever, official data showed on Wednesday, as tourists flocked to see its famous cherry blossoms and take advantage of the yen's slide to a three-decade low.

* The 16th World Future Energy Summit kicked off in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, with a focus on discussions to facilitate the global energy transition, promote investment in clean and renewable energy, and create a sustainable future.

* Russian President Vladimir Putin will discuss the floods with the emergency minister and the governors of affected regions, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday.

* Almost 117,000 people have been evacuated due to floods in Kazakhstan, the Central Asian nation's emergencies ministry said on Wednesday.

* At least 800 people in Indonesia's North Sulawesi province have been evacuated after multiple eruptions of the area's Ruang volcano, which for days has spewed lava and ash clouds into the sky, the country's volcanology agency said on Wednesday.

* Authorities and communities across the United Arab Emirates were clearing debris on Wednesday after a torrential downpour killed at least one person and caused damage to homes and businesses.

* The combination of the Shenzhou-18 crewed spaceship and a Long March-2F carrier rocket has been transferred to the launching area, the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) said on Wednesday.

* The United Nations on Tuesday received financial pledges for about two-thirds of the $1 billion it was seeking to raise to boost humanitarian aid to Ethiopia, which has been hit by conflict, drought and floods.

* The Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Wednesday said it has approved a policy-based loan of 46.3 million euros (50 million USD) to help improve access to quality and affordable health care in Georgia.

* Euro zone inflation slowed across the board last month, reinforcing expectations for a European Central Bank interest rate cut in June, even as rising energy costs and a weak euro cloud the outlook, final data from Eurostat showed on Wednesday.

* The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Tuesday said there are likely to be "bumps" as the fight against inflation is entering its "last mile," calling for a multi-pronged approach to preserve financial stability.

* The Sri Lankan government expects to attract 4 billion to 4.5 billion USD in foreign investments in 2024, State Minister of Investment Promotion Dilum Amunugama has said.

* New Zealand's consumer price index rose 4 percent in the 12 months to the March 2024 quarter, the smallest increase since June 2021, according to the statistics department Stats NZ on Wednesday.

* The maximum energy price for Polish households will be set at 500 zlotys ($123) per megawatt-hour (MWh) for the second half of 2024, according to a draft bill posted on the government's website late on Tuesday, up from 412 zlotys per MWh currently.