World News in Brief: April 18

Elaborate arrangements and adequate security measures were put in place for the first phase of India's general elections scheduled on Friday, Election Commission of India (ECI) officials said Thursday. Voting for the first phase will be held in 102 parliamentary constituencies spread over 21 states.
The ruling center-right Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), led by Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, won most seats in the parliamentary elections on Wednesday, but failed to obtain enough seats to form a government independently.
The ruling center-right Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), led by Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, won most seats in the parliamentary elections on Wednesday, but failed to obtain enough seats to form a government independently.

* China and Indonesia have pledged to strengthen economic ties and maintain peace and stability in the region, China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Thursday after a meeting with his Indonesian counterpart, Retno Marsudi, in Jakarta.

* Pakistani and Indian experts are of the view that enhanced transboundary cooperation, scientific knowledge and data sharing are the need of the hour to counter the air pollution crisis faced by the two countries.

* Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday agreed to hold an urgent meeting of the Ukraine-NATO Council.

* A three-day meeting of foreign ministers from the Group of Seven (G7) countries kicked off in Italy's Capri Island on Wednesday, with talks expected to focus on the situation in the Middle East.

* Iran's nuclear chief Mohammad Eslami reaffirmed on Wednesday the country's commitment to nuclear activities that align with its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

* The Palestinian presidency on Wednesday condemned the remarks by U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN) Linda Thomas-Greenfield over full UN membership for Palestine.

* European Union leaders decided on Wednesday to step up sanctions against Iran after Tehran's missile and drone attack on Israel left world powers scrambling to prevent a wider conflict in the Middle East.

* Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi held talks on Wednesday with visiting Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa in the Egyptian capital Cairo, where they discussed efforts to reach calm in the Palestinian Gaza Strip and put an end to the ongoing regional tension.

* Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said Wednesday that Qatar is reassessing its role as a mediator between Israel and Hamas.

* Israel announced on Wednesday the launch of a new route to supply humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip via the Ashdod Port, in response to international warnings of the catastrophic hunger in the Palestinian enclave.

* Arab League (AL) Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit on Wednesday urged to contain regional escalation, starting from halting Israeli killings in the Gaza Strip, the AL said in a statement.

* The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) on Wednesday launched a flash appeal worth 2.822 billion USD for the occupied Palestinian territory.

* The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Wednesday called on governments to avoid slippages in the biggest-ever election year and focus more on rebuilding buffers and safeguarding fiscal sustainability over the medium term.

* The New Zealand government is committed to doubling renewable energy capacity as new data show that clean energy has helped the country reach its lowest annual gross emissions since 1999.

* The Ecuadorian government on Wednesday decreed the suspension of the working day on April 18 and 19 on a national scale in response to the energy crisis facing the South American country.

* Norway's $1.6 trillion sovereign wealth fund, the world's largest, on Thursday posted a profit of 1.2 trillion crowns ($109 billion) for the first quarter of 2024, boosted by strong technology stocks.

* Chilean President Gabriel Boric told a major copper industry conference on Wednesday he expects production at state-run miner Codelco to grow slowly this year and reach 1.7 million metric tons by 2030, and that he sees copper prices rising.

* Australia's unemployment rate rose slightly to 3.8 percent in March, official data has revealed.

* The consumer price index (CPI) in the United Kingdom (UK) rose by 3.2 percent in the 12 months to March, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said on Wednesday.

* Iranian rescuers on Wednesday saved 21 crew members of a storm-hit Sri Lankan oil tanker from drowning along with their ship in the Gulf of Oman, Iran's official news agency IRNA reported.

* The United Arab Emirates was still grappling on Thursday with the aftermath of a record-breaking storm this week that brought much of the country to a standstill.

* The number of flood-related casualties in Afghanistan in the past few days has increased as 70 people have been confirmed dead and more than 50 others sustained injuries, spokesman for the national disaster authority Mullah Janan Saeq has said.