World News in Brief: June 18

Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his intent to enhance bilateral relations with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) in an article ahead of his planned visit to the DPRK, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Tuesday.
A heatwave is hitting Iraq as several provinces witnessed a temperature of 50 degrees Celsius on Tuesday, the Iraqi Meteorological Organization and Seismology said in a statement. (Image for Illustration/File Photo: AFP)
A heatwave is hitting Iraq as several provinces witnessed a temperature of 50 degrees Celsius on Tuesday, the Iraqi Meteorological Organization and Seismology said in a statement. (Image for Illustration/File Photo: AFP)

* The African National Congress (ANC) said on Monday that a total of five political parties have officially signed a statement of intent to participate in the government of national unity (GNU). The five parties are the ANC, the Democratic Alliance, the Inkatha Freedom Party, GOOD, and the Patriotic Alliance.

* Rwandan President Paul Kagame on Monday accused Western countries of adopting "double standards" on democracy, ahead of next month's general elections in the East African country.

* The Venezuelan government on Monday expressed its strong condemnation of the U.S. authorities' process of "seizure of Citgo Petroleum Corporation."

* The task of controlling floods in China is becoming increasingly arduous, President Xi Jinping said on Tuesday, calling for all-out efforts to safeguard lives and property as powerful storms pounded provinces from the interior to the eastern coast.

* Malaysia is preparing to join the BRICS group of emerging economies, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said in an interview with Chinese media outlet Guancha. The BRICS group of nations originally included Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, which gave it the acronym.

* The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Monday urged fiscal policymakers to build stronger social safety nets, increase investment in education and reform tax systems to support human workers and mitigate inequality in AI transition.

* The Russian navy launched a new Project 20385 corvette "Provorny" for its Pacific Fleet on Tuesday.

* Australia is sending seven ministers and its police chief to Papua New Guinea to hold security and trade talks with its northern neighbour, government officials said on Tuesday.

* UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday called for action to stop vandalizing the Earth as nearly 40 percent of land across the planet is degraded with more acres lost every second.

* Slovakia supports Mark Rutte's proposed appointment as the next NATO secretary-general, Slovak President Peter Pellegrini said on Tuesday, one of the last countries in the alliance to fall in line behind the outgoing Dutch prime minister.

* Hungary is ready to support Mark Rutte's bid to become NATO secretary-general, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said in a post on social media platform X on Tuesday.

* The South Korean government issued a return-to-work order for private practitioners on Tuesday as more doctors including medical professors join the months-long strike to protest increasing medical school admissions.

* The New Zealand government has made a significant upgrade to its digital child exploitation filtering system, which blocks access to websites known to host child sexual abuse material, Minister of Internal Affairs Brooke van Velden said on Tuesday.

* The Sri Lankan navy seized an Indian trawler and apprehended four Indian fishermen poaching in Sri Lankan waters off Jaffna in the north of the country on Tuesday morning, the navy said in a press release.

* The Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Tuesday said it has signed a 50 million USD commitment to Actis Asia Climate Transition Fund to help accelerate the clean energy transition and address development challenges arising from climate change impacts in Asia and the Pacific.

* Israel's military said on Monday that its troops have defeated about half of the Hamas forces in Gaza's Rafah.

* Israeli airstrikes on Tuesday killed at least 17 Palestinians in two of the Gaza Strip's historic refugee camps and Israeli tanks pushed deeper into the enclave's southern city of Rafah, residents and medics said.

* More than 37,372 Palestinians have been killed and 85,452 have been wounded in Israel's military offensive in Gaza since Oct. 7, the Gaza health ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

* Malnutrition has threatened the lives of 3,500 children in the Gaza Strip, the Hamas media office said in a press statement on Tuesday.

* United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk on Tuesday reiterated his shock at the disregard for international human rights and humanitarian law by all parties involved in the Gaza conflict.

* U.S. envoy Amos Hochstein on Tuesday called for urgent de-escalation in cross-border fire exchanges between Hezbollah and Israel, the National News Agency reported.

* One person is dead and about fifty others are missing after a shipwreck occurred 100 miles off Italy's southern coast, local media reported on Monday.

* The tourism sector contributed 8.6 percent of the Philippines' gross domestic product (GDP) in 2023, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said on Tuesday.

* Ivory Coast's GDP growth is seen at around 7% between 2024 and 2027, President Alassane Ouattara told a joint session of parliament on Tuesday.

* The Finnish Ministry of Finance forecasts a 1.6 percent economic growth for 2025 and 1.5 percent for 2026 respectively, and no growth at the annual level for this year, in a survey published on Monday.

* Nearly half of Angola's 1,634 oil wells are inactive, and the authorities plan to collaborate with oil companies to reactivate some of the wells, an official said Monday.

* Peak demand for power in India's hot, arid northern plains hit a record on Monday, the government said as it continues to implement measures to meet high energy consumption, although the weeks' long heatwave is forecast to abate soon.

* Throngs of tightly packed pilgrims on the annual Haj pilgrimage struggled as temperatures hit 51.8 degrees Celsius (125.2 Fahrenheit) in the shade of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi state TV said, with the searing heat claiming lives.

* Italian agricultural production shrank last year as wine, fruit and olive oil output all took a hit from extreme weather events linked to climate change, national statistics bureau ISTAT said on Tuesday.

* Some 126 people in Ecuador have been left homeless since mid-June when extreme weather hit the country, especially its central and Amazonian provinces, said the National Risk Management Secretariat on Monday.

* Torrential downpours hitting El Salvador since Friday have claimed 11 lives and forced over 880 people to evacuate, the National Civil Protection Commission said Monday.

* An ongoing storm lashing south-central Chile has to date left one person dead and 11,126 people homeless after damaging more than 8,900 homes, authorities said on Monday.

* A heatwave is hitting Iraq as several provinces witnessed a temperature of 50 degrees Celsius on Tuesday, the Iraqi Meteorological Organization and Seismology said in a statement.