World News in Brief: February 13

Thursday, 2020-02-13 14:18:55
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The most active volcano, Mount Merapi, in Indonesian Java Island, erupted on Thursday (February 13) morning, and a warning over the risks of hot clouds and volcanic materials was issued, the volcanology agency said. The 2,930-meter-high volcano spewed a column of ash by up to 2,000 meters to the sky, the agency said.

* The Thai Ministry of Commerce on Wednesday said it expects Thailand to only export 7.5 million tons of rice this year, a drop below the target of 10 million tons for the second straight year.

* A two-day forum on COVID-19 coordinated by the World Health Organization (WHO) concluded in Geneva on Wednesday (February 12), setting research priorities for scientists worldwide to better understand and fight the disease.

* Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani left Kabul for Germany on Thursday to attend a security conference, the Afghan Presidential Palace said. The Munich Security Conference, which is a world's leading forum for debate on international security policy, is scheduled to be held in Germany's Munich from Feb. 14 to Feb. 16.

* An additional 40 people on a cruise ship quarantined in Yokohama have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, bringing the total of onboard infections to 174, Japanese authorities said Wednesday. Japan is stepping up efforts to contain the spread of the virus, as the number of confirmed cases continues to rise.

* Russian President Vladimir Putin and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte discussed the situation in Libya during a phone call on Wednesday, the Kremlin has said in a statement.

* US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday met with visiting Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud in Washington discussing bilateral ties and Iran, said the US State Department.

* The Security Council on Wednesday adopted a resolution to endorse the outcome of last month's Berlin Conference on Libya. Resolution 2510 won the support of 14 of the 15 members of the Security Council. Russia abstained.

* The Russian Defense Ministry denied in a statement on Wednesday the accusations of attacks on civilians in Idlib.

* At least 14 people died and more than 30 injured in a road mishap in India's northern state of Uttar Pradesh late on Wednesday night, confirmed local Superintendent of Police (SP) Sachindra Patel to Xinhua over phone on Thursday morning.

* Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky discussed multiple aspects of the Ukraine-EU cooperation with visiting Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiation Oliver Varhelyi, the Ukrainian president's press service said Wednesday.

* Storm Ciara, which has been battering Poland since late Sunday, damaged 250 buildings and hundreds of trees on Tuesday alone with no casualties reported, the State Fire Service (PSP) said on Wednesday.

* British forecasters on Wednesday issued a fresh weather warning for snow before a new storm Dennis is expected to unleash strong winds and heavy rains across the country this weekend.

* Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi warned on Wednesday that Iran's response to any Israeli aggression against its interests in the region or in Syria will be "crushing."

* Jordan on Wednesday announced investment projects involving multiple sectors worth US$4.5 billion, state-run Petra news agency reported. The investment projects are located across the 12 governorates in Jordan, involving tourism, industry, health, agriculture and services, according to Jordanian Prime Minister Omar Razzaz.

* Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, a state-owned Israeli technology company, announced on Wednesday that in a recent demo in Israel, its Drone Dome system performed interceptions of multiple drones. The company said in its statement that the system achieved 100 percent success in all test scenarios.

* The Iraqi security forces launched Wednesday a major offensive to hunt down Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq's western province of Anbar and border areas with neighboring Syria and Jordan, the Iraqi military said.

* Immigration across the US-Mexico border plunged 74.5 percent from May 2019 to January 2020, in the wake of a bilateral agreement to curb migrant flows, Mexico's Foreign Affairs Minister Marcelo Ebrard said Wednesday.