World News in Brief: February 9

Sunday, 2020-02-09 09:11:11
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An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.2 jolted 59 km SSE of L'Esperance Rock, New Zealand, at 20:50:51 GMT on Saturday (February 8), the US Geological Survey said. The epicenter, with a depth of 10 km, was initially determined to be at 31.9056 degrees south latitude and 178.5948 degrees west longitude.

* China has full confidence and capability to win the battle against the coronavirus outbreak, Chinese Consul General in Los Angeles Zhang Ping said on Friday (February 7), urging the international community to give more understanding and support to China's efforts to prevent and control the epidemic.

* Japan is ready to mobilize the whole country and provide all assistance possible to China in combating the novel coronavirus pneumonia (NCP) outbreak, heavyweights of the ruling camp said on Friday.

* US administration's decision to increase tariffs on derivative steel and aluminum imports by 25 percent and 10 percent respectively took effect on Saturday. US President Donald Trump signed a proclamation two weeks ago to raise tariffs on derivative steel and aluminum imports to cover nails, staples and other downstream products, calling it "necessary and appropriate."Economists have long argued that such tariffs have hurt the American manufacturing sector and the overall economy, and the latest move has provoked further criticism.

* The 2020 general election in Ireland kicked off at 7:00 a.m. local time (0700 GMT) on Saturday morning as scheduled, with the participation of a record number of female candidates, local media reported.

* Around 239 million people in sub-Saharan Africa are suffering from hunger and malnutrition, a senior official of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said on Saturday.

* The US embassy in Libya Saturday expressed concern over "contemplated" military action between Libya's UN-backed government and the east-based army.

* The United Nations (UN) Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Saturday called for intensified international efforts to deal with a locust outbreak that has affected large parts of the African continent.

* The United Nations Higher Commission of Refugees (UNHCR) on Friday said that more than 1,000 illegal immigrants have been rescued by the Libyan Coast Guard so far this year. As of February 6, some 1,040 refugees and migrants have been registered as rescued or intercepted at sea by the Libyan Coast Guard and have disembarked in Libya, an increase of 121 percent compared to the same period in 2019, the UNHCR said.

* Iranian Petroleum Ministry on Saturday awarded a deal worth US$1.4 billion to an Iranian energy enterprise to develop two oilfields located at southeast of the country, state TV reported.

* The Syrian government forces captured a strategic town in the south of Aleppo province in northern Syria on Saturday, a war monitor reported. The army forces captured the town of al-Eis, one of the important areas in the army's quest to fully secure the Damascus-Aleppo highway, according to the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights.

* The Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union (APU) on Saturday voiced its rejection of the US Middle East peace plan announced by US President Donald Trump, the state-run Petra news agency reported. The remarks were made during the 30th emergency session of the APU, which convened representatives of 20 Arab countries in Amman, capital of Jordan.

* Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and visiting UN Special Envoy for Syria Geir O. Pedersen discussed latest developments in Syria in Tehran on Saturday, official IRNA news agency reported. In the meeting, Zarif stressed a political solution as the only way out of the crisis in Syria.

* US media reported on Saturday that a firefight had taken place between Afghan and American soldiers in eastern Afghanistan earlier in the day, leading to fatalities on both sides. Citing two Afghan officials, The New York Times said that the shootout had caused the death of five or six American soldiers and six Afghan soldiers.

* The state-owned Libyan National Oil Corporation (NOC) on Friday said that the suspension of oil exports due to closure of oil fields and ports has caused a loss of more than US$1 billion so far.