World News in Brief: January 13

Ukraine's Ambassador to Türkiye Vasyl Bodnar said that a summit to discuss the peace plan for Ukraine may take place on Feb. 24, the Ukrainian government-run Ukrinform news agency reported Thursday.
The fast-spreading Omicron subvariant XBB.1.5 is estimated to account for 43% of the COVID-19 cases in the United States for the week ended Jan. 14, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed on Friday.
The fast-spreading Omicron subvariant XBB.1.5 is estimated to account for 43% of the COVID-19 cases in the United States for the week ended Jan. 14, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed on Friday.

* Voters in the Czech Republic went to the polls on Friday to elect a new head of state for the next 5 years to succeed incumbent President Milos Zeman. Voting started at 2:00 p.m. on Friday and will continue on Saturday. About 8.3 million citizens are reportedly eligible to vote.

* US President Joe Biden welcomed Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio at the White House on Friday and told him that the United States strongly supports the defense of Japan. In their Oval Office meeting, Biden also thanked Kishida for strong leadership in working closely on technology and economic issues.

* Brazil on Thursday officially returned to the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), which it had left during the administration of former President Jair Bolsonaro, the Argentine Foreign Ministry announced.

* UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday called for preserving the status quo of Jerusalem's holy sites and the two-state solution to the Palestine-Israel issue.

* The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Britain on Friday signed a memorandum of understanding to enhance strategic and technical cooperation in the energy sector.

* Thousands took to the streets of Peru's capital Lima in a peaceful protest against the new government and president, after weeks of bloody clashes triggered by the ousting of former President Pedro Castillo left at least 42 dead.

* Germany is in talks with Iraq over the possibility of importing natural gas from the oil-rich country, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Friday, as Berlin scrambles to diversify its energy sources to replace a drop in Russian fossil fuel shipments.

* The Republic of Korean police said Friday that it referred 23 government officials to the prosecution on professional negligence and other charges after wrapping up a 74-day investigation into the deadly crowd crush that occurred in late October at the Itaewon district of Seoul during Halloween celebrations.

* Visiting Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said on Friday that Iran is fully prepared to help rehabilitate Lebanon's power plants to help it produce energy, the National News Agency reported.

* The Iranian foreign minister said on Friday that Iran welcomes the resumption of diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia and the reopening of embassies, the official news agency IRNA reported.

* The March 23 Movement (M23), a rebel group that has taken territory in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), has agreed to continue an "orderly withdrawal," a regional peace facilitator said.

* Sri Lanka will reduce the size of the army to 135,000 by 2024 from the current approved number of 200,783, a state minister said on Friday. The number will be further reduced to 100,000 by 2030, State Minister of Defense Pramitha Bandara Tennakoon said in a press release.

* Wall Street's major averages climbed on Thursday as investors cheered signs of cooling in US inflation.

* Cambodia exported 372,900 tons of dry rubber in 2022, an increase of 1.8 percent from 366,300 tons a year earlier, said a General Directorate of Rubber report on Friday.

* The Republic of Korea's monthly economic report on Friday expressed deep worries about an economic slump with high inflation, sluggish export and slower consumption recovery, according to the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

* Brazilian grain production will reach 310.9 million tons in the 2022-2023 cycle, a growth of 14.5 percent compared to the previous period, according to the estimate released Thursday by the state-run National Supply Company (CONAB).

* Remittances sent by overseas Pakistani workers decreased by 3.2 percent in December on a month-on-month basis, the State Bank of Pakistan said on Friday.

* Brunei recorded 2,477.5 million Brunei dollars (1,871.2 million USD) total trade for October 2022, a 7.1 percent year-on-year increase contributed by a rise in import value.

* Indonesia will begin making batteries for electric vehicles in the first half of 2024.

* Germany's price-adjusted gross domestic product (GDP) in 2022 was 1.9 percent higher than in the previous year, according to preliminary figures published by the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) on Friday.

* The United Kingdom's (UK) economy is estimated to have grown by 0.1 percent in November as services activity strengthened during the soccer World Cup 2022 in Qatar, statistics showed on Friday.

* Hungary's annual average inflation rate was 14.5 percent in 2022, up from 5.1 percent in 2021, the country's Central Statistical Office (KSH) said on Friday. The official target of the National Bank of Hungary (MNB) was 3.0 percent for 2022.

* Bangladesh's total exports in the first half of the current 2022-23 fiscal year (July 2022-June 2023) reached over 27 billion USD, up 10.58 percent year on year, the latest official data showed.

* Myanmar exported 1,217.18 tons of honey in the first nine months of fiscal year 2022-23 starting in April, earning over 1.8 million USD, the state media reported on Friday.

* Spaceport Esrange, mainland Europe's first orbital launch complex, was inaugurated on Friday at the Esrange Space Center in northern Sweden.