World News in Brief: February 15

Saturday, 2020-02-15 14:29:13
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The World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Friday (February 14) said that the international joint mission with China on the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is moving forward, with the full team expected to reach China over the weekend.

* Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen on Friday welcomed passengers disembarked from the Westerdam cruise ship in southwest Cambodia's Sihanoukville after all had tested negative for the novel coronavirus. The cruise ship, carrying 1,455 passengers and a crew of 802, had been turned away in some ports due to fears over the novel coronavirus, docked at southwest Cambodia's sea port of Sihanoukville Thursday.

* The Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) of the African Union (AU) has announced that enhanced efforts are underway to prepare for any possible outbreak of novel coronavirus pneumonia (COVID-19).

* Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged upon scientists to focus on new technologies including 5G, Artificial intelligence (AI) and renewable energy sources in a bid to improve quality of life of the common people, officials said Saturday (February 15). Modi made the comments while chairing the meeting of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) on Friday evening.

*The 56th Munich Security Conference (MSC) opened in the southern German city of Munich on Friday afternoon with a theme coined as "Westlessness." More than 500 high-level international decision-makers, including over 35 heads of state or government as well as some 100 foreign and defense ministers gathered at the conference to discuss current crises and future security challenges.

* Seven Taliban militants, including two local Taliban leaders, were killed in an overnight army airstrike in Afghanistan's northern Takhar province in the latest raid against the insurgents, authorities said Saturday.

* Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had a telephone conversation with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin and discussed implementing agreements reached during a summit in Paris, the Ukrainian president's press service said Friday.

* Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Friday unveiled a multi-billion-euro 10-year investment plan aimed at stimulating the economy and creating jobs in the country's chronically impoverished southern regions.

* The European Investment Bank (EIB) will channel billions of euros this year to Greece to assist the recovery of its economy, the lender's president Werner Hoyer told Xinhua in Athens on Friday. Last year the EIB committed funds of EUR2 billion (US$2.2 billion) to credit lines for various projects in Greece, and the lender is about to sustain its contribution this year.

* India dispatched its first consignment of 1,500 crates of oranges to Dubai, a statement from the country's commerce ministry said on Friday. The oranges originate from Nagpur, 938 km from Mumbai, which is also the second political capital of the country's western state of Maharashtra.

* A senior Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) official on Friday called on the British government to stick to its position over Israeli settlement in the Palestinian territories.

* Albania will host the meeting of defense ministers of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) members in June, Albanian Defense Minister Olta Xhacka announced on Friday. Xhacka made this announcement after attending the meeting of the NATO defense ministers held in Brussels on Feb. 12-13.

* Britain's national weather service has issued four more weather warnings on Friday as Storm Dennis is expected to slam the country with heavy winds and rain this weekend.

* The Ukrainian Armed Forces received more than 7,400 units of new weapons in 2019, according to the country's defense ministry.

* The strategic highway linking Syrian capital Damascus in the south with Aleppo province in the north has become fully secure, state news agency SANA reported on Friday.

* Over 2,000 army and civilian personnel are combing up bushes in the northeastern part of the country to hunt down desert locusts that migrated from neighboring Kenya after causing havoc. Armed with spray pumps, the military are hunting down the locusts that experts warn are likely to cause harm by destroying crops and pasture for animals if urgent attention is not taken.

* Clashes erupted on Friday between supporters of Lebanon's Future Movement party and civil society protesters in Beirut's downtown ahead of the commemoration of late Prime Minister Rafic Hariri, MTV local TV Channel reported.

* At least 15 children were killed in a fire at an orphanage in an area near the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, local officials reported on Friday.