World News in Brief: June 17

Friday, 2022-06-17 16:59:14
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Ecuador oil company Petroecuador says it is working to shut down gas flares in the Amazon to comply with a court-imposed deadline, but progress is too slow for nearby communities who allege the flares cause cancer and other illnesses.
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An unprecedented 36.5 million children were displaced by conflict, violence and other crises by the end of 2021, the highest number since World War II, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) reported Friday.

* Chinese President Xi Jinping will host a virtual BRICS summit for leaders on June 23, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Friday.

* The Lao government has agreed to increase the monthly minimum wage from 1,100,000 kips (some 72 USD) to 1,300,000 kips (some 86 USD) for private-sector employees in a bid to keep pace with the rising cost of living.

* The World Trade Organization chief presented countries with a series of draft trade agreements early on Friday that included pledges on health, food security and urged that they be accepted as a major meeting stretched into its second day of overtime.

* Visiting German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Thursday met Indonesian President Joko Widodo on bilateral cooperation, including investment in the electric vehicle sector, renewable energy, and carbon taxes.

* The Republic of Korea was worried about an economic slowdown due to surging inflation and slower export growth, a government report said Friday.

* Pacific security issues can and should be dealt with by regional nations, Samoan Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata'afa said on Friday, while adding that China's size made it an attractive economic partner.

* Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is to present a roadmap on overcoming the current economic crisis to the parliament soon, local media reported on Friday.

* The government of Hungary has decided to extend the caps on fuel and staple food prices until Oct. 1, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on his Facebook page on Thursday.

* Italy's consumer price index climbed a record-setting 6.8 percent year-on-year in May, showed data released Thursday by the National Institute of Statistics (ISTAT). The crisis in Ukraine and a slowdown in international trade have both contributed to the upward trend in prices, it said.

* Russia promised to speed up talks about increased gas sales to China and warned that Europe would pay a hefty price for its oil embargo against Russia.

* Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met with the leaders of France, Germany, Italy and Romania in Kiev Thursday to discuss his country's prospects to join the European Union and the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the presidential press service reported.

* Ukraine alone should decide whether or not to accept any territorial concessions towards Russia, French President Macron told TF1 television.

* The European Union's executive is expected to propose on Friday that Ukraine become a formal candidate for membership.

* Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he would attend a NATO meeting in Madrid at the end of the month.

* Britain will welcome representatives from Ukraine and business leaders on Friday to discuss how British companies can help rebuild infrastructure in Kyiv.

* A Chinese health authority spokesperson on Friday urged the full implementation of COVID-related regulations and strengthened virus control efforts at key enclosed sites with gatherings of people.

* India continues to witness a sharp rise in the number of new COVID-19 cases per day as more than 12,000 new cases were recorded for the second consecutive day on Friday.

* Thailand announced on Friday it would abandon its pre-registration process for foreign visitors and no longer require face masks to be worn in public, responding to a slower COVID-19 spread.

* The Swiss parliament failed to finance the government's plan to buy COVID-19 vaccines in 2023, forcing the cabinet to try to renegotiate contracts with Moderna and Pfizer/Biontech for millions of doses.

* The Australian government has agreed to extend its coronavirus health funding model until the end of 2022.

* Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein on Thursday expressed Iraq's readiness to host a new round of direct talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia in Baghdad.

* Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Friday it was important to keep communication channels open with Turkey, despite sharp rhetoric which has heightened tension between the two neighbours.

* Gas flows to France from Germany have been at a halt since June 15, France's pipeline operator GRTgaz said on Friday, citing the effects of reduced Russian deliveries.

* Russian gas producer Gazprom GAZP.MM said its supply of gas to Europe through Ukraine via the Sudzha entry point was seen down to 41.9 million cubic metres (mcm) from 42.5 mcm on Thursday.

* Global central bankers, who shared the limelight for skirting a pandemic-driven depression with quick action two years ago, are now stumbling through the aftermath as they try to quell an inflation surge none predicted or have been able to forestall.

* Bank of Botswana (BoB)'s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) decided to increase the monetary policy rate, commonly known as the repo rate, by 50 basis points from 1.65 percent to 2.15 percent.

* Argentina's Central Bank on Thursday raised the benchmark interest rate by three percentage points, from 49 percent to 52 percent.

* Israeli troops killed three Palestinians during a raid in the West Bank on Friday, Palestinian officials said. The identity of the three men was unclear. The officials said they had been shot in a car in the city of Jenin.

* Lebanon and Egypt are set to sign a "final" gas import agreement on June 21, a Lebanese energy ministry spokesperson told Reuters.

* Security has deteriorated in two provinces in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo since the government placed them under military rule last year, U.N. experts said on Friday.

* The U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) called on Friday for urgent support to some 16,000 newly displaced people who fled one of Burkina Faso's deadliest militant attacks last weekend that left at least 100 people dead.

* Three wildfires continue to burn out of control in the community of Catalonia in northeast Spain, the region's fire services have confirmed.