World News in Brief: January 4

Five countries -- Ecuador, Japan, Malta, Mozambique and Switzerland -- on Tuesday began to assume responsibilities as non-permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.
Mongolia's central bank purchased a total of 22.9 tons of gold in 2022 from legal entities and individuals, up 10 percent from the previous year.
Mongolia's central bank purchased a total of 22.9 tons of gold in 2022 from legal entities and individuals, up 10 percent from the previous year.

* A senior official of the Communist Party of China (CPC) called for effectively coordinating the epidemic response with economic and social development in an orderly transition to Class-B management of COVID-19.

* "I will be opening a new chapter in our comprehensive strategic cooperation with China," Philippine President Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos Jr. said when leaving for China on Tuesday for a three-day state visit.

* A spokesman for the United Nations on Tuesday underscored the importance of upholding the status quo in the holy sites, in reaction to the controversial visit by Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir to the flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East Jerusalem.

* Colombia called off a ceasefire with the National Liberation Army (ELN) rebels on Wednesday, in an about-face after the left-wing guerrilla group said it had not agreed to halt fighting.

* Russian President Vladimir Putin plans to talk to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Interfax news agency on Tuesday.

* US President Joe Biden will hold talks with Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio at the White House on Jan. 13, the White House said on Tuesday.

* Poland had asked for the intervention of the United Nations (UN) over World War II reparations with Germany, a Polish deputy foreign minister said on Tuesday.

* Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal on Tuesday outlined 10 priorities of the government for 2023, including support for the army and the whole security and defense sector.

* India's federal government and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Tuesday signed four different loan agreements worth 1.22 billion USD for developing infrastructure in four Indian states, the federal finance ministry said.

* Cambodia exported 637,004 tons of milled rice to international markets in 2022, up 3.2 percent, from 617,069 tons a year earlier, the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF) said in a news release on Tuesday.

* Myanmar exported over 1 million tons of rice in the first nine months of fiscal year 2022-23 starting in April, according to the Myanmar Rice Federation (MRF) on Tuesday.

* British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will set out his priorities for 2023 on Wednesday, using his first speech of the year to try to reassure his restive Conservative Party that he has what it takes to lead them into the next national election.

* The Sri Lankan government increased the excise duty imposed on alcohol and cigarettes by 20 percent, said State Minister of Finance Ranjith Siyambalapitiya on Tuesday.

* Mongolia's population growth has been slowing down since 2020, Chairman of the National Statistics Office Batmunkh Batdavaa said Tuesday. The population of the country had grown by an average annual rate of 2.2 percent from 2010 to 2020, he said.

* Euro zone business activity contracted less than initially thought at the end of last year as price pressures eased, according to a survey which suggested the bloc's recession may not be as deep as expected.

* Libya's total oil revenues reached 105.5 billion Libyan dinars ($22.01 billion) in 2022 compared with 103.4 billion libyan dinars in 2021, the central bank said on Wednesday.

* Sri Lanka's tourism ended the year 2022 on a positive note, as the arrivals of international visitors to the country topped the 700,000 mark despite the economic and political crisis, local media reported on Tuesday.

* Oil prices fell sharply on Tuesday amid growing concerns over the global economic outlook.

* Boeing announced Tuesday that the company will produce 12 new CH-47F Chinooks for the Egyptian Air Force. With a contract of 426 million USD, Egypt will replace its fleet of CH-47D aircraft with the modern F model, the announcement said.

* Gasoline and diesel prices in Italy have surged dramatically after a discount on fuel-related excise duties expired.

* Supported by the government's relief measures, inflation in Germany fell to 8.6 percent year-on-year in December, according to preliminary figures published by the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) on Tuesday.

* Intense armed confrontation renewed on Tuesday between Yemeni government forces and the Houthi rebels in the southwestern province of Taiz, a military official told Xinhua.

* Libyan Prime Minister Abdul-Hamed Dbeibah on Tuesday vowed that his government will strive to preserve the country's unity and avoid war or armed conflict.

* The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said on Tuesday that 1,088 migrants were rescued and returned to Libya in the past week.

* Uruguay's goods exports grew 16.5 percent in 2022 to reach a record high of 13.36 billion USD, the country's trade promotion agency Uruguay XXI said Tuesday.

* Nigeria will keep its costly but popular petrol subsidy until mid-2023 and has set aside 3.36 trillion naira ($7.5 bln) to spend on it, Finance Minister Zainab Ahmed said on Wednesday.

* Libya's oil revenues rose to 105.5 billion Libyan dinars ($22.01 billion) in 2022 from 103.4 billion libyan dinars in 2021, the central bank said on Wednesday.

* After one of the wettest years on record, Australia's weather forecaster says a La Nina weather pattern, associated with wet weather, is slowly weakening, although a separate weather system will keep the odds of rain high until mid-January.

* Cold wave conditions have gripped the entire north India, officials said Wednesday. According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), dense to very dense fog and cold day conditions will continue over the northwest part of the country during the next four to five days.

* As major flooding continued across the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW), the state's emergency service agency on Wednesday said that Menindee, a small town with around 500 people, is currently releasing 75,000 megaliters of flood water per day.

* Two car bombs detonated by al Shabaab militants killed at least 15 people and flattened homes in central Somalia's Hiraan region on Wednesday, a resident involved in the rescue operations said.