World News in Brief: June 23

The world's biggest trade pact RCEP will be signed later this year, participating countries said in a statement on Tuesday (June 23), adding that the coronavirus pandemic had increased the deal's importance. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) brings together the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), China, Japan, Republic of Korea, Australia and New Zealand. India pulled out of talks last November, but members have said the door remains open to New Delhi.

As of January 1, Vietnam has officially taken on the role of ASEAN Chair 2020. With the new position, the country has set out a number of priorities, including the facilitation of the signing of the RCEP. (Source: Customs News)
As of January 1, Vietnam has officially taken on the role of ASEAN Chair 2020. With the new position, the country has set out a number of priorities, including the facilitation of the signing of the RCEP. (Source: Customs News)

* China on Tuesday successfully put into orbit the final satellite of its Beidou navigation network. The mission was originally set for June 16, but was cancelled at the last minute due to technical problems detected during pre-launch tests of the Long March-3B carrier rocket.

* Russia's deputy foreign minister and the US special presidential envoy for arms control on Monday (June 22) discussed global security issues, and the extension of the START nuclear arms control treaty in particular, the Russian foreign ministry said. Sergey Ryabkov and Marshall Billingslea, at talks in Vienna, also discussed the issues of sustaining stability and predictability in the conditions after the end of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), the Russian ministry said on its website.

* US officials will gather this week to discuss whether to give Israel a green light for its plan to annex Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's target date of July 1 approaches.

* Japan is expected to compile a stimulus package to boost the economy in the autumn, as its previous two packages were aimed at preventing firms and households from bankruptcy amid the coronavirus pandemic, a close ally of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said.

* French President Emmanuel Macron pointed the finger at Turkey on Monday over its support of the internationally recognised government in Libya, saying Turkey was playing "a dangerous game" that went against everything it had agreed to in international talks. Macron said he had spoken earlier to US President Donald Trump on the crisis in Libya.

* China reported 22 new coronavirus cases for June 22, 13 of which were in the capital Beijing, the National Health Commission said on Tuesday. This compared with 18 confirmed cases a day earlier, 9 of which were in Beijing. Authorities are restricting movement of people in the capital and stepping up other measures to prevent the virus from spreading following a series of local infections.

* The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Monday reported 2,275,645 cases of new coronavirus, an increase of 27,616 cases from its previous count, and said the number of deaths had risen by 308 to 119,923.

* Brazil reached more than a million confirmed coronavirus cases and 50,000 deaths over the weekend as throngs of people swarmed Rio de Janeiro beaches, but the World Health Organization said on Monday that even more cases were likely going uncounted. Brazil's health ministry said on Monday that an additional 21,432 confirmed cases of the virus and 654 new deaths had been registered in the previous 24 hours.

* Mexico on Monday reported 4,577 new infections and 759 additional deaths from the coronavirus, the health ministry said, bringing the total number in the country to 185,122 cases and 22,584 deaths.

* Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday pushed back against pressure from airlines to reopen the nation's borders, saying moving too quickly could spark a second wave of the coronavirus.

* Russia on Tuesday reported 7,425 new cases of the novel coronavirus, pushing its nationwide case total to 599,705, the world's third highest tally. The country's coronavirus crisis response centre said 153 people had died in the past 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 8,359.

* France reported 373 new confirmed coronavirus cases and 23 new deaths on Monday, figures in line with weekly averages this month that show a dramatic fall since the peak of the epidemic. The number of people in hospital with COVID-19 infections fell by 130 to 9,693, and those in intensive care fell by 14 to 701. Both numbers have been on a downtrend for at least 10 weeks.

* The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany rose by 503 to 190,862, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Tuesday. The reported death toll rose by 10 to 8,895, the tally showed.

* Saudi Arabia said on Monday it will bar arrivals from abroad to attend the haj this year due to the coronavirus, allowing only a limited number of Saudi citizens and residents to make the pilgrimage with social distancing measures enforced. The number of coronavirus cases in Saudi Arabia has exceeded 160,000, with 1,307 deaths, following a rise in new infections over the past two weeks.

* Toronto, Canada's most-populous city and financial capital, will allow businesses to reopen starting on Wednesday, joining other regions in the province of Ontario in ending a three-month pandemic lockdown, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said on Monday. Canadian provinces imposed lockdowns in March to contain the spread of the coronavirus, which has killed 8,430 people in Canada and infected 101,337, according to the latest government data. Toronto has recorded more than 1,000 deaths.

* Assailants killed 15 inhabitants of an indigenous village in southern Mexico that has been plagued by local disputes, authorities said on Monday, in one of the most brutal attacks to shake the countryside in recent years. State prosecutors in the state of Oaxaca said the bodies of 13 men and two women were identified as victims of the attacks over Sunday night and Monday morning in the municipality of San Mateo del Mar, east of the Pacific port of Salina Cruz. No arrests have yet been made, the official added.

* Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi movement carried out a "large-scale attack" deep in Saudi Arabia, the movement's Al Masirah television said on Tuesday, without elaborating. The Saudi-led coalition battling the group for five years said it had intercepted a ballistic missile fired by the Houthis towards Riyadh, the Saudi capital, on Tuesday.