World News in Brief: May 16

Over 2,000 Lao people and foreign nationals have entered Laos through land borders and the airport in the Lao capital Vientiane since the government reopened the country's borders on May 9 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Portugal started to offer a fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to elderly people and nursing home residents, the country's Directorate-General of Health (DGS) said on Monday.
Portugal started to offer a fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to elderly people and nursing home residents, the country's Directorate-General of Health (DGS) said on Monday.

* Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Monday talked over phone with Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif on bilateral ties.

* The Kremlin said Monday it is concerned about the decision of Finland and Sweden to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and will closely study all implications.

* Ukrainian parliament chairman Ruslan Stefanchuk said that Ukraine will not compromise on the issue of territorial integrity in a possible peace deal with Russia, the government-run Ukrinform news agency reported Sunday.

* Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson on Monday announced the official decision to start the process of the country's application to become a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

* Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Sunday that he had discussed military aid for Kiev and global food security with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

* The Russia-Ukraine crisis has forced the European Commission to slash its annual growth expectation for both the European Union (EU) and eurozone this year, it announced on Monday.

* Sweden will send diplomats to Turkey to try to overcome Ankara's objections to its plan to join NATO, Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist said, with a formal decision to hand in an application expected on Monday.

* Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Monday raised the prospect of an "era of recession" in Europe as the continent grapples with surging energy costs and rising inflation due to the war in Ukraine.

* India and Nepal will build a 695 megawatt (MW) hydropower plant, officials said on Monday, as the Himalayan nation looks to exploit its abundant potential to generate clean energy to ease power shortages.

* Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Monday that he will receive a delegation on Wednesday of organizers of the US-hosted Summit of the Americas, in which his government will set out why it wants all countries in the region to take part.

* French Prime Minister Jean Castex handed his resignation to President Emmanuel Macron on Monday, paving the way for a long-awaited cabinet overhaul and the likely appointment of the second woman to the job in 30 years.

* The Iranian foreign ministry spokesman on Monday called for a US political decision on the Vienna nuclear talks, saying Iran has already made its own proposals.

* The Republic of Korea's automotive export logged a double-digit growth last month despite lower car production, caused by the continued disruption of the global supply chain, a government report showed Monday.

* Israel is boosting offshore natural gas output and aims to reach a supply agreement with Europe in the coming months as the continent looks to replace Russian supply.

* Mexico will waive import duties for one year on a range of household staples, most of them foodstuffs, in a bid to curb inflation, the government said in its official gazette on Monday.

* Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Monday constituted a task force to deal with the pressing issue of climate change in the country, the Prime Minister's Office said.

* UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was appalled by Saturday's killing of 10 people in a vile act of racist violent extremism in Buffalo, New York, his deputy spokesman said Sunday.

* Iran's top diplomat has travelled to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Monday to pay his respects after the death of President Khalifa bin Zayed, Iranian state media reported, while Tehran welcomed the appointment of the Gulf state's new ruler.

* Saudi Arabia's energy minister said on Monday the kingdom was on track to increase its oil production to more than 13 million barrels per day by the end of 2026 or the beginning of 2027.

* Chinese health experts have reiterated the necessity and urgency for senior citizens to receive the COVID-19 vaccine jabs, as local transmission routes of COVID-19 have yet to be completely blocked in some regions.

* The Republic of Korea's unification ministry has offered to hold working-level talks with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on offering support for its neighbour, which is battling its first confirmed outbreak of COVID-19.

* The number of COVID-19 cases has increased to 613,144 in Myanmar after four new infections were reported in the past 24 hours, the Ministry of Health said on Monday.

* India's COVID-19 tally rose to 43,123,801 on Monday, as 2,202 new cases were registered during the past 24 hours across the country, showed the health ministry's latest data.

* A dust storm swept across much of Iraq on Monday, sending more than 2,000 people to hospitals with respiratory problems and forcing the closure of airports, schools and some government offices.