World news in Brief: January 5

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan told Russian President Vladimir Putin in a phone call that peace efforts in the Russia-Ukraine conflict should be supported by a unilateral ceasefire and a "vision for a fair solution", the Turkish presidency said on Thursday.
US stocks climbed on Wednesday as Wall Street pored through the Federal Reserve's latest meeting minutes and a slew of economic data. (Representative Image)
US stocks climbed on Wednesday as Wall Street pored through the Federal Reserve's latest meeting minutes and a slew of economic data. (Representative Image)

* Sri Lankan's Election Commission said on Wednesday that applications for postal voting from eligible voters for the 2023 local elections would be accepted on Jan. 5-23.

* The US embassy in Havana resumed full immigrant visa processing and consular services for the first time since 2017 on Wednesday in a bid to stem the record-breaking flow of illegal migrants from Cuba north to the United States.

* The US House of Representatives remains in turmoil with no speaker elected on the second day of voting. House members voted on Wednesday night to adjourn until noon Thursday, prolonging a historical political stalemate that has paralyzed the lower chamber.

* Iran and Russia have signed a contract for building a cargo ship for the Caspian Sea port of Solyanka, Iran's Press TV reported on Wednesday.

* US President Joe Biden said on Wednesday that he intends to visit the US-Mexico border during an upcoming trip that is currently being planned.

* Norway and Germany on Thursday signed joint declarations to increase the production of renewable energy and develop green industry, Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere said.

* Germany's exports of military equipment to Ukraine accounted for more than a quarter of its overall arms exports by value in 2022, the Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK) said on Wednesday.

* The Colombian government has decided to suspend ceasefire with the National Liberation Army (ELN), after the guerrilla group denied it was part of a bilateral ceasefire agreement announced by Colombian President Gustavo Petro on New Year's Eve, a top official said Wednesday.

* The Polish government on Wednesday signed a 1.4-billion-USD deal to buy 116 battle tanks from the United States. The US Department of State last month approved the sale of the M1A1 Abrams tanks to Poland, alongside other military equipment.

* The upcoming UN Security Council's (UNSC) session is important because of its "speedy convening and the unification of the international community in condemning and rejecting Itamar Ben-Gvir's action," a Palestinian diplomat said on Wednesday.

* The UN Central Emergency Response Fund on Wednesday released 7 million USD for people suffering insecurity in Mali's north, a UN spokesman said.

* UN Assistant Secretary-General and United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific Kanni Wignaraja on Wednesday assured Sri Lanka with UN's financial and technical support as the South Asian island country attempted to recover from an economic crisis.

* Syrian President Bashar al-Assad met on Wednesday with visiting Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan in the capital Damascus, state news agency SANA reported. The two sides discussed cooperation on different levels and ways to boost economic cooperation, according to the report.

* Electricity supply in parts of India's western state of Maharashtra was affected on Wednesday as thousands of the employees of three government-owned companies went on a 72-hour strike.

* Year-on-year inflation in the Philippines accelerated to 8.1 percent in December from 8 percent in November, the highest since November 2008, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said on Thursday.

* China will further leverage the unique strength of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in COVID-19 treatment, said a new circular from the State Council inter-agency task force for COVID-19 response.

* India detected a total of 11 subvariants of COVID-19 in international travellers who arrived in the country during Dec. 24 to Jan. 3, health ministry sources said on Thursday, adding they were a mix of new and existing variants.

* The orderly resumption of outbound travel for Chinese tourists will be "a major boon to New Zealand's tourism industry," said Lisa Li, a travel operator specialising in the Chinese market.

* Greece announced on Wednesday additional measures to deal with certain drug shortages, a problem it said was global and attributed to an increase in seasonal virus infections, supply chain issues, the energy crisis and reduced exports from Asia.

* Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Wednesday the salaries of civil servants and pensioners would rise by an additional five percent to 30 percent in the first half of 2023.

* Poultry farmers across Europe have been forced to cull their flocks in the latest effort to slow the spread of the highly-contagious avian influenza on the continent.

* Heatwaves such as those that enveloped Europe in recent years are bound to become more frequent and more intense, and their impacts will be dramatic, a Swedish expert said on Wednesday.

* Britain experienced its hottest year on record in 2022, the national weather service confirmed on Wednesday, saying that human-induced climate change had made the temperature rise around 160 times more likely.

* Africa's top public health body said on Thursday that the Ebola outbreak in Uganda was coming under control, as it had been 39 days since the last confirmed case of the virus had been reported in the country.