World News in Brief: February 2

Cambodia continued to pursue an independent foreign policy that upholds its core interests, guarantees sovereignty and peace, and boosts economic ties, Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn said Wednesday.
Thailand targets its rice exports this year at 7.5 million tons, in response to high demand and the instability of the Thai baht, local media reported Thursday.
Thailand targets its rice exports this year at 7.5 million tons, in response to high demand and the instability of the Thai baht, local media reported Thursday.

* Myanmar's State Administration Council (SAC) announced a cabinet reshuffle after the country's state of emergency was extended for six more months on Wednesday.

* Brazilian Senate President Rodrigo Pacheco and lower house speaker Arthur Lira were both re-elected on Wednesday with a majority of votes in the National Congress elections.

* Peru's lawmakers rejected Wednesday a second bill to bring forward the presidential election to December 2023, despite nearly two months of deadly protests following the removal of ex-President Pedro Castillo.

* Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday compared today's fight against Ukraine and its Western allies to Russia's victory against Nazi Germany in World War Two, in a speech marking 80 years since the decisive battle of Stalingrad.

* The Republic of Korea and the United States staged joint air drills involving strategic US bombers and fighters, Seoul's defense ministry said on Thursday.

* Turkey summoned the ambassadors of nine countries, including the United States, Germany and France, over them temporarily closing their consulates for security reasons, a source from the ministry said on Thursday.

* Sweden said on Thursday it would tighten laws covering membership of terrorist organisations months after an agreement with Turkey on fighting terrorism aimed at overcoming its objections to Swedish NATO membership.

* Austria is expelling four Russian diplomats for behaving in a manner inconsistent with international agreements, a reason often invoked in spying cases, the Austrian Foreign Ministry said on Thursday without giving specifics.

* Finland and Sweden remain committed to joining NATO at the same time despite Turkey's opposition to the Swedish candidacy, the two countries' prime ministers told a joint news conference in Stockholm on Thursday.

* Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday met with his visiting Austrian counterpart, Alexander Van der Bellen, to discuss bilateral cooperation and assistance for Kiev, the Ukrainian presidential press service said.

* Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said on Wednesday that he met French President Emmanuel Macron to discuss Ukraine's defense needs.

* President Joe Biden's plan to reshape the Democratic Party's presidential nominating contest faces its final test this week in a Democratic National Committee vote where officials from two key states staunchly oppose the effort.

* Belarus' Defence Ministry said on Thursday that it had completed two-week long joint air force drills with Russia's military.

* Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Ishtaye on Wednesday warned that the unilateral measures of the Israeli government against the Palestinians would be "catastrophic" for the region.

* Germany and Italy have joined the growing list of Western countries having their consulates in Istanbul temporarily closed over security concerns, as Türkiye is on high alert against possible retaliation for Quran burning incidents in several European countries.

* Norwegian police said on Thursday they had decided for security reasons to ban a planned demonstration that had been due to take place outside the Turkish embassy in Oslo on Friday.

* Spain and Morocco have agreed to set aside their differences, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Thursday, as they seek to repair a relationship marked by frequent disputes over migration and territory.

* Serbia must continue talks with Kosovo on normalising ties in order to pursue European Union membership, President Aleksandar Vucic told parliament on Thursday, before scuffles broke out in the chamber as it debated the latest international peace plan.

* Israeli foreign minister Eli Cohen was in the Sudanese capital Khartoum on Thursday to discuss the normalisation of ties between the two countries, two Sudanese government sources said.

* The construction of a gas interconnector between Bulgaria and Serbia started on Bulgarian territory on Wednesday in a bid to diversify gas supplies in the region.

* Tanzanian Vice President Philip Mpango on Wednesday urged African leaders to demonstrate their leadership by renewing their commitment to ending AIDS in children in the continent by 2030.

* Chad inaugurated an embassy in Israel on Thursday, four years after the establishment of official ties between the two countries.

* Israel intercepted a rocket from the Gaza Strip on Wednesday evening, a day after US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken left the region in a visit that aimed at calming escalating violence.

* A delegation of the militant group Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) will head to Egypt on Thursday for dialogue on defusing tensions between Israel and the Palestinians, an official said.

* The European Commission on Wednesday unveiled its plan to meet the challenges posed by the United States'(US) Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and keep up with a worldwide race in subsidy schemes for green industries.

* China saw railway passenger trips climb 48.7 percent year on year to over 100 million after the Spring Festival, as the country's shift in COVID-19 response unleashed pent-up travel demand.

* Leading oil officials on Wednesday recommended to maintain the current oil output policy of OPEC+, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, amid an uncertain global economic outlook.

* Euro zone shares extended gains on Thursday to touch their strongest level in almost a year, as investors shrugged off hawkish messages from the European Central Bank and pinned their hopes on the global rate hike cycle ending soon.

* The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits dropped to a nine-month low last week as the labor market remains resilient despite higher borrowing costs and mounting fears of a recession this year.

* The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development detailed on Thursday the final guidance for governments on how to bring the new global minimum corporate tax into their law books, taking the reform a step closer to roll out next year.

* More than 146.4 million people permanently resided in Russia as of Jan. 1, down 555,332 from the past year, data published by the country's Federal Statistics Service showed on Wednesday.

* The radioactive capsule, which contained 19 gigabecquerels of Caesium-137, is currently traveling from Newman to Perth in a convoy of vehicles, authorities in Western Australia (WA) confirmed on Thursday.

* The USD fell sharply in late trading on Wednesday after the Federal Reserve announced a quarter-point interest rate hike. The dollar index, which measures the greenback against six major peers, decreased 0.9 percent to 101.1840.

* The Republic of Korea's trade via the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) hit 8.9 billion USD in 2022, customs office data showed Wednesday.

* Economic growth in Italy was stronger than expected last year, at 3.9 percent, according to official data released Tuesday. However, the Italian economy contracted in the fourth quarter of 2022, making it likely that it will enter into a technical recession this year.

* Thailand's manufacturing sector expanded to the second highest level on record in January, adding to evidence of a recovery in the country's economic activity, a survey showed Wednesday.

* The New Zealand government is unlocking an additional 700,000 NZ dollars (456,515.5 USD) in support for regions that have been badly hit by the recent flooding and storm damage in the upper North Island, including the country's largest city Auckland.

* The Philippines' debt eased to 13.42 trillion pesos (248.73 billion USD) as of Dec. 31, 2022, partly due to the appreciation of the peso against the USD, the Philippine Bureau of Treasury said on Thursday.

* Up to half a million British teachers, university staff, train drivers and civil servants went on strike on Wednesday in the largest coordinated action for years amid high inflation and lengthy disputes over pay.

* Annual inflation in the eurozone is projected to fall to 8.5 percent in January from 9.2 percent in December 2022, according to a flash estimate published on Wednesday by Eurostat, the European Union's (EU) statistical bureau.

* Pakistan's consumer price index (CPI), a main gauge of inflation, rose 27.55 percent in January as compared to the same month a year ago when it was recorded at 12.96 percent, Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) said Wednesday.

* Sri Lanka received over 100,000 tourists in January 2023, Minister of Tourism Harin Fernando said on Wednesday. Fernando told the media that 82,327 tourists arrived in January last year and the number has risen to 102,545 in January this year.

* Iraq exported about 101.24 million barrels of crude oil in January, generating 7.69 billion USD in revenue, the country's oil ministry announced Wednesday.