World News in Brief: June 13

French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday called on voters to back his centrist Renaissance alliance in legislative elections set to take place in less than three weeks.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Thursday said the U.S. employment picture increasingly resembles the job market that existed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and slowing wage growth is not a threat to add to inflation.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Thursday said the U.S. employment picture increasingly resembles the job market that existed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and slowing wage growth is not a threat to add to inflation.

* Rwandan President Paul Kagame made a Cabinet reshuffle Wednesday night, dropping some ministers and appointing new ones.

* China and New Zealand have agreed to initiate negotiations on service trade negative lists, the official Xinhua News Agency reported on Thursday. The agreement was reached during Chinese Premier Li Qiang's meeting with his New Zealand counterpart Christopher Luxon.

* Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday that France was deepening its involvement in the Ukraine conflict and increasing the risk of a direct clash with Russia.

* Argentina President Javier Milei will travel to China in the coming weeks and meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping, local newspaper Clarin reported on Thursday.

* Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said he would sign a security agreement with Japan as well as one with the United States at the Group of Seven summit in Italy on Thursday.

* Four Russian naval vessels arrived Wednesday at the port of Havana for a visit that will last until June 17. The Cuban Foreign Ministry said earlier that the vessels, including a nuclear-powered submarine and a frigate, do not "carry nuclear weapons, so their stopover in the country does not pose a threat to the region".

* Venezuela has entered the World Trade Organization (WTO) International Trade Facilitation Agreement, which leads to reduced costs in the nation's trade transactions, said Vice President Delcy Rodriguez on Wednesday.

* Turkey and Spain started work on joint production of a new amphibious military ship, and the two countries could collaborate on production of drones and unmanned submarines, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday.

* Spain's Patriot missile launcher will remain in Turkey despite Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's appeals for European governments to supply such defence systems to Kyiv, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Thursday.

* Canada soon plans to start sending a total of about 2,000 surplus unarmed rockets to Ukraine as well as a selection of other weapons, Defence Minister Bill Blair said on Thursday.

* Sri Lanka Cabinet approved a proposal by President Ranil Wickremesinghe to implement the national tariff policy in three phases from January 2025, the government's information department said on Wednesday.

* Iran and Qatar on Wednesday signed an agreement on legal assistance in criminal matters as well as a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on judicial cooperation between their governments, the Mizan news agency of the Iranian judiciary reported.

* The United States is very concerned that hostilities on the Israel-Lebanon border could escalate to a full-out war, a senior U.S. official said, saying that specific security arrangements are needed for the area and a ceasefire in Gaza is not enough.

* Israeli tanks advanced deeper into the western area of Rafah, amid one of the worst nights of bombardment from air, ground, and sea, forcing many families to flee their homes and tents under darkness, residents said on Thursday.

* More than 37,232 Palestinians have been killed and 85,037 have been injured in the Israeli military offensive on Gaza since Oct. 7, the Gaza health ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

* Lebanon's Hezbollah said on Thursday it had launched rockets and weaponised drones at nine Israeli military sites in a coordinated attack, ramping up hostilities on Lebanon's southern border for the second consecutive day.

* At least 42 people were killed by suspected Islamist rebels in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo's North Kivu province, two officials from the local administration said on Thursday.

* The United Nations refugee agency on Thursday said the number of people forcibly displaced stood at a record 117.3 million as of the end of last year, warning that this figure could rise further without major global political changes.

* Unidentified assailants in Niger attacked soldiers guarding a major Niger-Benin oil pipeline on Wednesday, killing six soldiers, three security sources told Reuters on Thursday.

* The U.S. Federal Reserve on Wednesday left interest rates unchanged at a 22-year high of 5.25 percent to 5.5 percent as the latest consumer price data shows that inflation seems to be cooling.

* Thailand's central bank held its key interest rate unchanged on Wednesday, extending the pause for the fourth consecutive meeting despite calls from the government to lower borrowing costs to shore up the economy.

* Slowing demand growth and surging supply put global oil markets on course for a major surplus this decade, according to a report released by the International Energy Agency (IEA) on Wednesday.

* India's palm oil imports rose by 11.6% in May from the previous month to reach the highest level in four months as its discount over rival oils led to higher purchases, a trade body said in a statement on Thursday.

* The International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved the second review of Sri Lanka's $2.9 billion bailout, but the global lender warned the economy remains vulnerable despite signs of recovery and urged Colombo to do more to restructure a hefty debt burden.

* Australia's population grew by over 650,000 people in 2023, according to official figures. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) on Thursday revealed that Australia's population was 26.97 million people at the end of 2023.

* Greece shut more ancient tourist sites in Athens on Thursday and elderly people took refuge at designated air-conditioned spots as the first heatwave of the summer persisted for a third day.