World News in Brief: February 20

Thursday, 2020-02-20 14:49:38
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Cambodia dispatched 68,040 laborers abroad in 2019, according to a Labor Ministry report on Wednesday (February 19). Thailand is the largest market for Cambodian workers, according to the report released during the ministry's annual conference.

* China is confident in winning the fight against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) amid the support of the international community including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the dinner party of the Special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers' Meeting on Coronavirus Disease and the fifth Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Vientiane,Laos, on Wednesday night.

* Two teams of experts sent by the World Health Organization (WHO) were working with their Chinese counterparts in China's Guangdong and Sichuan provinces, respectively, from Feb. 18 to 19, said China's health authority on Thursday.

* The death toll in Thursday's road mishap in south India's Tamil Nadu state has climbed up to 20, a local administration official told Xinhua over phone. Most of the passengers in the ill-fated bus belonged to Kerala.

* US President Donald Trump on Tuesday spoke over phone with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron on topics surrounding NATO and counterterrorism, said the White House on Wednesday.

* The European Commission unveiled its strategy for data and Artificial Intelligence(AI) on Wednesday, putting trustworthiness at the heart of its digital transformation.

* The Kremlin denied Wednesday that new US sanctions against a subsidiary of Russia's Rosneft oil company would hurt relations between Russia and Venezuela. "On the contrary, they are developing and will continue to develop," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

* Speaking at a Chinese New Year celebration on Wednesday at New Zealand Parliament, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that she hopes New Zealand will lift the travel bans imposed on China amid the novel coronavirus outbreak "as soon as possible" and normalize commerce and people-to-people links.

* Afghanistan's election commission on Tuesday evening finally declared the serving President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani as the elected president for the second term, nearly five months after the 2019 presidential polls.

* Foreign investors are looking to increase their investment in Mexico thanks to the ratification of the renovated free trade agreement, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Wednesday.

* Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday vowed to launch an operation into the Idlib province of Syria if the Syrian government does not retreat by the end of February.

* Head of the Lugansk Regional State Administration Sergey Gayday and French Ambassador to Ukraine Etienne de Ponsen discussed the possibility of financing the railroad construction in the Lugansk Region with the French side investing over EUR100 million (about US$108 million), Interfax Ukraine reported on Wednesday.

* The British government earmarked BRP90 million (about US$117 million) to tackle emissions from homes and heavy industry and fund Europe's first large scale and low carbon hydrogen plants, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has said.

* France will shut down the Fessenheim nuclear reactor, the country's oldest nuclear power plant, at the end of June, with one of its reactors to be closed this weekend, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe's office said on Wednesday.

* The German government approved a draft law to raise the minimum pension level, the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (BMAS) announced on Wednesday. After months of discussions, Labor and Social Affairs Minister Hubertus Heil was pleased that "this important social policy reform has finally succeeded."

* Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Ishtaye on Wednesday called on the European Union to fill the vacuum that was a result of the "failure" of the US Middle East peace plan.

* Nearly 58 million Iranians are eligible to vote in the parliamentary elections sheduled for Friday, the head of the election headquarters said Wednesday. The Iranians will go to the polls on Friday to elect the lawmakers for the 290-seat parliament.

* Iraq's Prime Minister-designate Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi on Wednesday called on the parliament to hold an extraordinary session to vote on his cabinet lineup next Monday.

* Palestine declared on Wednesday that it has engaged in negotiations with Israel through international mediators in order to lift its ban on Palestinian exports.

* The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) announced on Wednesday that it will offer financial support to over 40,000 children in Lebanon to prevent them from living in harsh economic conditions, the National News Agency reported.