World News in Brief: December 20

Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim passed a crucial confidence vote in the country's lower house of parliament on Monday. The motion was passed via voice vote rather than a bloc vote, and the move cemented Anwar's position as prime minister.
Bangladeshi Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Imran Ahmad said Monday the country looks to send its skilled labor to parts of Europe in need of foreign workers.
Bangladeshi Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Imran Ahmad said Monday the country looks to send its skilled labor to parts of Europe in need of foreign workers.

* Fiji will have a new government as the Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA), one of the opposition parties, decided on Tuesday to work with the People's Alliance (PA) and its partner, the National Federation Party (NFP), to form a coalition government for the next four years.

* Thailand deployed aircraft, boats and rescue teams off its central coast on Tuesday in a race against the clock to locate 30 missing marines, who abandoned a warship that sank at the weekend in choppy waters.

* Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Minsk and held talks with his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko on Monday to boost comprehensive cooperation between the two countries.

* The International Monetary Fund said on Monday it has approved a four-month program for Ukraine aimed at maintaining economic stability following Russia-Ukraine crisis erupted in February, and helping promote donor financing.

* Iran's foreign minister and top nuclear negotiator met with the European Union foreign policy chief and the EU official coordinating nuclear talks with Iran in Jordan on Tuesday, Iran's official IRNA news agency reported.

* The US House select committee investigating the Capitol riot of Jan. 6, 2021, made criminal referrals to the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Monday afternoon.

* Cyril Ramaphosa, president of South Africa's ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), has been re-elected to lead the party for a second term of five years, according to the election results released on Monday.

* The US state Texas on Monday deployed more than 400 National Guard troops and other personnel to El Paso, a city bordering Mexico, as the US Supreme Court temporarily halted the termination of an asylum-limiting policy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

* Pakistani security forces have on Tuesday launched an operation to free hostages from local Taliban militants at a counter-terrorism centre in the northwest of the country, three sources told Reuters.

* Oil prices climbed on Monday, bolstered by hopes of higher energy demand in China. The West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for January delivery added 90 cents, or 1.2 percent, to settle at 75.19 US dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude for February delivery rose 76 cents, or 1 percent, to close at 79.8 dollars a barrel on the London ICE Futures Exchange.

* The European Union (EU) member states have agreed to cap natural gas prices in the bloc at 180 euros (191 USD) per megawatt-hour (MWh) in an effort to ensure the security of energy supply, EU officials said on Monday.

* Negotiators in the US Congress unveiled a $1.7 trillion government funding bill on Monday, as lawmakers scrambled to pass the measure, which includes record military spending, before temporary funding runs out at the week's end.

* The Bank of Japan (BOJ) on Tuesday decided to adjust its yields on 10-year Japanese government bonds in a policy move to address mounting costs connected to its long-standing monetary easing measures.

* The Republic of Korea's headline inflation was expected to hover around 5 percent for now, before falling on slower petroleum price growth and downside pressure on the economy, the central bank said Tuesday.

* The Philippines' overall balance of payments (BOP) posted a 756 million USD deficit in November, higher than the 123 million dollar BOP deficit recorded a year earlier, the Philippine central bank said on Monday.

* Slovakia will start 2023 with a provisional budget as parties in parliament could not agree on spending changes after the country's minority centre-right government lost a no-confidence vote last week, parliament speaker Boris Kollar said on Monday.

* Egypt's Suez Canal registered a record-breaking revenue of 7.932 billion USD in 2022, the chairman of Egypt's Suez Canal Authority (SCA) announced Monday.

* Last year saw the lowest modern birthrate on record in Italy, with early signs that 2022 will likely follow suit. Italy's National Statistics Institute (ISTAT) reported Monday that the country had recorded 400,249 births last year, a decrease of 4,643 from a year earlier.

* Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday reiterated her call for boosting food production to save the country from any possible trouble amid the global economic recession.

* The Brazilian financial market cut its inflation forecast for 2022 from 5.79 percent to 5.76 percent and raised it for next year from 5.08 percent to 5.17 percent, the Central Bank of Brazil said Monday.

* The head of the World Trade Organization on Monday chided countries for failing to make headway on negotiations because of infighting over who should lead them.

* European Union countries voted on Monday in favour of weakening the bloc's planned law to cut methane emissions in the oil and gas sector, weeks after the EU pledged at the COP27 climate conference to do more to tackle the potent greenhouse gas.

* The World Bank has approved financing of $1.69 billion for flood relief projects in Pakistan, it said in a statement on Monday.

* UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Monday that he is not concerned about who manages a social media platform like Twitter as much as how it is managed.

* UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned Monday that far-right ideology is the major source of terrorism in Western countries.

* UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Monday that he did not expect effective peace talks over the conflict in Ukraine "at the immediate future."

* UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland on Monday stressed the need for a political process that will address the core issues.

* UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday called for climate action and announced that he will convene a Climate Ambition Summit to galvanize it.

* Colombia has lost 86,985 hectares (214,944 acres) of Amazon jungle in the first nine months of the year while fires burned through swathes of felled areas, a local advocacy group said on Monday.

* Severe flooding in parts of Malaysia has resulted in the displacement of 56,159 people in five states, according to government data on Tuesday.

* The death toll from a cholera outbreak that hit at least 10 villages in Nigeria's southern state of Cross River rose from 20 to 51 on Monday, a local traditional ruler said.

* At least 12 people were killed and 13 others injured in a gas cylinder blast in a market in the Lasbela district of Pakistan's southwest Balochistan province, a local official said on Tuesday.

* The Chinese mainland on Monday reported 2,656 locally transmitted confirmed COVID-19 cases, the National Health Commission said Tuesday. Monday saw five new deaths from COVID-19, with the total death toll at 5,242.

* Brunei logged a daily average of 332 new COVID-19 cases in the past week compared to 434 cases per day the week before, official statistics released on Monday showed.

* The number of foreign workers in the Republic of Korea fell slightly this year as the COVID-19 pandemic restricted arrival at and departure from the country, statistical office data showed Tuesday. The number of foreign nationals with jobs was 843,000 in May 2022, down 12,000, or 1.4 percent, from a year ago, according to Statistics Korea.

* Bangladesh Tuesday began administering the 4th dose of COVID-19 vaccine to priority groups in its capital city of Dhaka.

* Bivalent COVID-19 booster doses provided additional protection against COVID-19-associated emergency department or urgent care encounters and hospitalizations, according to a recent report of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

* Argentina saw a 129 percent jump in COVID-19 cases in the past week, the Health Ministry said Monday. Tests detected 62,261 new cases, up from 27,119 registered in the week ending on Dec. 11, data released by the ministry showed.