World News in Brief: January 4

Saturday, 2020-01-04 10:27:19
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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman discussed measures for reducing tension in the region in a call with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on events in Iraq on Friday (January 3), according to the state news agency. Earlier on Friday, the ministry of foreign affairs in the kingdom called for self restraint to contain any escalation.

* US citizens working for foreign oil companies in the southern Iraqi city of Basra were leaving the country on Friday, the oil ministry said, after a US air strike killed a top Iranian commander in Iraq.

* US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke with Iraq's Speaker of Parliament Mohammed al-Halbousi on Friday and they agreed on the need to lower tensions in Iraq and the region in the wake of a US air strike that killed Iran's most powerful general, the US State Department said.

* Air strikes targeting Iraq's Popular Mobilisation Forces umbrella grouping of Iran-backed Shi'ite militias near camp Taji north of Baghdad have killed six people and critically wounded three, an Iraqi army source said late on Friday.

* United Nations (UN) senior officials on Friday condemned the recent military escalation in and around Libyan capital Tripoli, which has been witnessing a violent war between the east-based army and the UN-backed government.

* Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan inaugurated the Allama Iqbal Industrial City, a special economic zone (SEZ) under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in the east Faisalabad city on Friday, the prime minister's office said.

* Russia has halted oil supplies to refineries in Belarus, the Belarusian state energy firm said on Friday, amid a new contract dispute that is also threatening large Russian oil deliveries to Western Europe crossing the country. Belarus's state firm Belneftekhim said deliveries had been halted as of Jan. 1.

* Mexico City's new ban on plastic bags has inspired visions of a journey back in time even as local makers of the packaging worry they could become obsolete.

* A rerun of Bolivia's election has been set for Sunday May 3, the president of the country's Supreme Electoral Tribunal said on Friday. Salvador Romero said both presidential and parliamentary elections would be held on the same day.

* French police shot dead a man near Paris on Friday after he went on a rampage with a knife in a park, killing one person and wounding two more, prosecutors said.

* Bulgarian veterinary authorities said on Friday they would cull 24,000 pigs after detecting an outbreak of African swine fever at a pig farm in the northeast of the country. The outbreak is the first at an industrial farm since August when the virus hit six breeding farms in the Balkan country, forcing the vet authorities to cull over 130,000 pigs.