World News in Brief: May 14

Japan plans to extend up to 100 million USD in aid to developing countries in the Indo-Pacific region to help them better battle the COVID-19 pandemic, Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa said on Friday.

The United Nations is ready to help the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) deal with an outbreak of COVID-19, said a spokesman on Friday.
The United Nations is ready to help the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) deal with an outbreak of COVID-19, said a spokesman on Friday.

* Hungary's first female President Katalin Novak gave a message of hope and unity in her inauguration ceremony in Budapest on Saturday.

* Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Saturday appointed four ministers to the new cabinet after United National Party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in as the South Asian country's prime minister on Thursday.

* India banned wheat exports on Saturday days after saying it was targeting record shipments this year, as a scorching heat wave curtailed output and domestic prices hit a record high.

* Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that he stands ready for direct talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Zelensky's press service reported Friday.

* Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Finnish counterpart, Sauli Niinisto, held a phone conversation on Saturday and discussed Helsinki's intention to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

* Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz held a phone conversation on Friday to discuss the situation in Ukraine with an emphasis on the humanitarian aspect.

* Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin held a phone conversation on Friday to discuss the situation in Ukraine.

* More than 6.4 million people have been reached with vital humanitarian assistance in Ukraine since the country's military conflict with Russia started on Feb. 24, said UN humanitarians on Friday.

* Russian gas producer Gazprom GAZP.MM said it is continuing to ship gas to Europe through Ukraine via the Sudzha entry point, with volumes on Saturday seen at 64.9 million cubic metres (mcm), up from 61.97 mcm on Friday.

* The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has reaffirmed its commitment to supporting Bangladesh in its efforts to achieve a rapid recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, green growth and climate resilience.

* The Portuguese Council of Ministers announced on Friday a measure to halve the price of gas used for electricity production for both domestic and industrial consumers, who have been severely affected by this year's electricity price inflation.

* The Ministry of Public Health of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) is taking strict measures on switching the state epidemic prevention work to the maximum emergency system, the Korean Central News Agency reported on Saturday.

* Poland expects the European Union to unblock billions of euros in COVID-19 recovery funds in the coming days, a government spokesman said on Friday, after negotiators reached "milestones" in talks over the approval of its National Recovery Plan.

* The prevalence of COVID-19 infections in England fell to 1 in 45 people in the week ending May 7, the Office for National Statistics' Infection Survey said, down from an estimated 1 in 35 people who had the infection the previous week.

* International agencies and charitable foundations providing COVID-19 vaccines for Africa should order African-made vaccines, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa told a global COVID-19 summit.

* Moderna Inc MRNA.O said on Friday Swiss drugs regulator Swissmedic had authorized the use of its COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 6 to 11 years.

* The head of the Rome-based United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on Friday called on the world's largest industrialized economies to take steps to anticipate future food shortages.

* Police in New Delhi arrested two people suspected of flouting fire safety regulations on Saturday after at least 27 people died in a blaze at a building housing a manufacturing unit for surveillance cameras.

* Afghanistan on Saturday announced a 231.4-billion-afghani (2.6 billion USD) national budget for the 1401 fiscal year on the Persian calendar beginning March 21, 2022.

* Islamic state on Saturday claimed responsibility for a deadly attack that killed five Egyptian soldiers in the country's Sinai peninsula on Wednesday, the group said on its Telegram channel.