World News in Brief: June 20

Thursday, 2019-06-20 11:53:10
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Philippine security forces are closely monitoring its remote southernmost provinces of Tawi-Tawi and Sulu after reports that the 10 Malaysian fishermen kidnapped last Tuesday (June 11) by suspected Abu Sayyaf gunmen from waters off Sabah in eastern Malaysia were taken to the bandits' jungle lair in southern Philippines.

* General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Pyongyang Thursday (June 20) for a state visit to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). The DPRK visit, Xi's first as CPC chief and Chinese head of state and also the first of its kind in 14 years, came as the two neighboring countries are celebrating the 70th anniversary of their diplomatic ties.

* The US military did not fly over Iranian airspace on Wednesday (June 19), the US military said, after a news website run by Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards said a US drone was shot down over the southern Iranian province of Hormozgan.

* The Russian Foreign Ministry said Wednesday that it is groundless to accuse Russian soldiers of being responsible for the deadly crash of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in 2014.

* Mexico on Wednesday became the first country to ratify the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) agreed late last year to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) at the behest of US President Donald Trump.

* Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday that he will meet US President Donald Trump in Washington Thursday to mainly discuss trade issues.

* A Palestinian official said on Wednesday that an Egyptian delegation will meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas soon over Palestinian internal reconciliation.

* Iran will not extend the 60-day deadline for the parties to the 2015 nuclear deal to take practical measures to save Iran's interests, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) said Wednesday.

* Stephen Biegun, US special representative for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) affairs, and his Republic of Korean counterpart reaffirmed Wednesday that they are ready to resume negotiations with the DPRK on denuclearization.

* US Secretary of the Army Mark Esper, who will replace Patrick Shanahan as acting defense secretary Monday, will attend the NATO defense ministerial meeting in Brussels at the end of June, the Pentagon announced Wednesday.

* Malawi's Members of Parliament on Wednesday elected fellow legislator, Catherine Gotani Hara, as speaker of Parliament, making her the country's first female speaker for the August House.

* The top UN envoy for Afghanistan on Wednesday called for efforts to promote direct peace talks between the Taliban group and the Afghan government.

* The Egyptian Foreign Ministry announced on Wednesday that Egypt will chair a meeting of the foreign ministers of Sudan's regional partners in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa to discuss the ongoing Sudanese crisis.

* Islamic State on Wednesday said its West African branch carried out an attack on a Nigerian army base in northeastern Borno state and said its fighters had killed 12 soldiers.

Xinhua, Reuters