World News in Brief: December 26

Pushpa Kamal Dahal, chairman of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Center), was tapped to head a new coalition government on Sunday. President Bidya Devi Bhandari appointed Dahal, also known as Prachanda, as the new prime minister after he garnered the support of 169 lawmakers in the 275-strong House of Representatives.
Britain will stop publishing the COVID-19 R number that measures how quickly the disease is spreading among the population, saying on Monday it was not needed anymore thanks to vaccines and drugs.
Britain will stop publishing the COVID-19 R number that measures how quickly the disease is spreading among the population, saying on Monday it was not needed anymore thanks to vaccines and drugs.

* Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping will speak before the end of the year, Russian state news agency TASS said on Monday, without giving details of the timing or format.

* The acting head of the United Nations' mission to Afghanistan told the Taliban administration's acting economy minister to reverse a decision to ban female NGO workers during a meeting, according to a statement on Monday.

* EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Sunday strongly condemned Afghanistan's Taliban-run administration's order to ban women from working at all local and foreign non-governmental organisations (NGOs), saying this amounts to erasing women from public spaces.

* Yemen's Houthi militia on Sunday accused the Saudi-led coalition of launching five drone strikes on the Yemeni Red Sea port city of Hodeidah, Houthi-controlled Saba website reported.

* Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) announced Sunday that it has arrested "seven leaders of recent riots" who had been linked to Britain.

* Saudi Arabia and Japan signed a memorandum of cooperation (MoC) on Sunday in the fields of the circular carbon economy, carbon recycling, clean hydrogen and fuel ammonia, the Saudi Energy Ministry said on Twitter.

* The fuel consumption in Sri Lanka has plunged by 50 percent in the last months of 2022, compared to the first few months of the year, the state-owned fuel distributor Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) said on Monday.

* Israel's exports have registered a year-on-year increase of 10 percent in 2022 to reach a record high of over 160 billion USD, according to estimates issued by the Ministry of Economy and Industry on Sunday.

* President Abdelmadjid Tebboune on Sunday signed the budget law for 2023 in the Algerian capital Algiers, official APS news agency reported.

* Tunisia expects inflation to average 10.5% in 2023, up from 8.3% expected for 2022, as inflationary pressures continue to increase, economy minister Samir Saeed said on Monday.

* The southern parts of China are expected to see snowy and rainy weather from Monday night to Thursday, the country's national observatory said Monday.

* The death toll in the United States from a powerful winter storm climbed to over 30 on Sunday, according to a tally by NBC News.

* Intense cold wave and fog continued to disrupt normal life in the northern states of India, officials said on Monday.

* At least six people have died and 19 others are missing, as heavy rain and flooding triggered by the shear line have been seen in many regions in the Philippines over the weekend, the government said on Monday.

* Italy is expected to have its warmest holiday season in at least 50 years, according to meteorologists, more anomalous weather in a year filled with unusual weather patterns.

* A total of 1,014 people died in 5,353 road traffic accidents in Tunisia from the beginning of this year to Dec. 23, the National Road Safety Observatory (ONSR) said in a statement on Sunday.

* Four Kurdish-led security force members were killed in an Islamic State suicide attack on Monday on a security forces centre in Syria's Raqqa, a spokesperson for the forces said.

* At least 54 were injured in an explosion and the consequent fire at a paint manufacturing plant in the northwestern Iranian city of Tabriz, semi-official Tasnim news agency reported on Monday.

* Fifteen people were hospitalised and an emergency situation declared in the southeastern Serbian city of Pirot following an ammonia leak caused by a cargo train derailing nearby, local media reported.

* The last two people unaccounted for after an avalanche in the Lech/Zuers skiing area in western Austria contacted authorities late on Sunday, and a search and rescue operation was suspended, the Austrian Press Agency (APA) reported on Monday.