World News in Brief: March 13

Wednesday, 2019-03-13 10:06:14
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In his remarks to a high-level event on March 12 on Women in Power, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres underscored the need to overcome obstacles to achieve gender parity "across the board" in the United Nations.

* US and Taliban negotiators wrapped up their longest round of peace talks on March 12 in Doha, Qatar, with progress made but no agreement on when foreign troops might withdraw, officials from both sides said. The 16 days of talks, in which the United States also sought assurances that the Taliban would not allow militant groups to use Afghanistan to stage attacks, are expected to resume in late March.

* Technical teams have managed to restore electricity service in almost entire Venezuela, which has suffered a massive blackout since Thursday (March 7), said Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez on March 12.

* NATO should focus on fighting against terrorism now more than ever as it poses a major threat, said Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis on March 12 at a conference marking the 20th anniversary of the Czech accession to the military alliance.

* Ireland's foreign minister said he was disappointed at Britain's parliament voting down a Brexit deal on March 11.

* The United States is working on a plan that lifts steel and aluminum tariffs off Mexican and Canadian products while preserving the gains of those tariffs overall, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said on March 12.

* Turkey is discussing with Russia and the United States a potential military offensive in a region of northeast Syria controlled by Kurdish fighters, a Turkish defence official was cited as saying by state media on March 12.

* French Budget Minister Gerald Darmanin on March 12 announced "strong measures" to ameliorate working conditions of customs officers enough to overcome the eventual pressure that the Brexit may trigger.

* The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) will send a total of 279 observers to observe the April 21 presidential elections in North Macedonia, head of the ODIHR Corien Jonker said on March 12.

* Ukraine has received a diplomatic note from Russia regarding the non-extension of the Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership between the two countries, Ukraine's Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin said on March 12. The document, which contains 12 pages, is an answer to the Ukrainian decision to terminate the treaty, Klimkin wrote on Facebook, without giving details.

* The European Union (EU)'s foreign and security policy chief Federica Mogherini on March 12 defended the Iran nuclear deal, citing the need for "a solid multilateral architecture for non-proliferation and disarmament."

* Libya's UN-backed Prime Minister Fayez Serraj on March 12 underscored the need to unite regional and international efforts to end the political crisis in Libya.

* At least 55 armed men were killed during gunfights with troops in Zamfara state, northwest Nigeria, a military spokesperson said on March 12.

* The International Organization for Migration (IOM) on March 12 said that it is appealing to the international community for US$207 million to continue its lifesaving assistance to Syrians. IOM said that these funds are necessary to continue assistance in Syria and neighboring countries in 2019.

* The European Investment Bank (EIB) has granted the Moroccan Motorway Company (ADM) EUR80 million (US$90.4 million) to upgrade highway infrastructure in the region of Grand Casablanca, EIB and ADM said in a joint statement on March 12.

Xinhua, Reuters