Reuters World News Summary
Following is a summary of current world news briefs.
Human Rights Watch calls for sanctions against new Afghan defense minister
International rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) has urged major donors to impose sanctions on Afghanistan's newly appointed acting defense minister over alleged war crimes and human rights abuses. President Ashraf Ghani's decision last month to appoint the fiercely anti-Taliban Asadullah Khalid prompted an outcry from human rights organizations which accuse him of being involved in assassinations, torture and illicit drug business while serving as governor of Ghazni and later of southern Kandahar in 2005 and 2008.
Greece's Tsipras calls confidence vote after ally quits coalition
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Sunday said he would call a confidence vote in his government after his coalition ally quit, leaving him bereft of a parliamentary majority and raising the possibility of snap elections. Earlier, Greece's right-wing defense minister resigned in protest at a deal ending a long running dispute with Macedonia over its name, saying he was taking his other six ministers in cabinet with him.
Italian militant Battisti arrested in Bolivia after 1981 jailbreak
Italian former leftist guerrilla Cesare Battisti, who has been on the run for almost four decades after being jailed for murder, has been arrested in Bolivia and is expected to be extradited to Italy, officials said on Sunday. "He will soon arrive in Brazil and from here will be transferred to Italy to serve a life sentence," Filipe G. Martins, a senior aide on international affairs to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, tweeted.
British PM warns of catastrophe if lawmakers don't back Brexit deal
British Prime Minister Theresa May has warned lawmakers that failure to back her plan to leave the European Union would be catastrophic for Britain, in a plea for support two days ahead of a vote in parliament that she is expected to lose. Lawmakers are set to vote on May's Brexit deal on Tuesday, after she shelved plans for a vote in December when it became clear that not enough lawmakers from her own party or others would back the deal she agreed with Brussels.
Yemen's Houthis threaten more drone attacks
The Iranian-aligned Houthi group threatened on Sunday to launch more drone attacks after a deadly strike last week on a Yemeni government military parade, stoking tension between the warring parties amid U.N. peace efforts. Houthi spokesman Yahya Sarea said Thursday's drone strike on a military base in Lahaj province, which killed several people, was a "legitimate operation against aggression". He said the movement was building a stockpile locally manufactured drones.
EU may need rules to stop doctors emigrating: German minister
The European Union should consider regulating to stop member states from poaching each other's doctors and other professionals, German Health Minister Jens Spahn said. Spahn, a conservative heavyweight among Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats who recently lost a contest to become the party's leader, described a knock-on effect of countries attracting doctors from neighboring countries, as is the case with Switzerland taking in German physicians.
Israel claims Syria air strike, says hunt for Hezbollah tunnels over
Israel acknowledged on Sunday that it carried out a weekend air strike on what it called an Iranian arms cache in Syria, and that it also completed a hunt for cross-border tunnels dug by Tehran-allied Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas. Long wary of publicity around its operations against Iran-linked targets on its northern front, Israel has been lifting the veil in recent days - a sign of confidence in a campaign waged amid occasional tension with Syria's big-power backer, Russia.
Secretary of State Pompeo urges Gulf states to heal rift
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday that a rift between Qatar and its Arab Gulf neighbors had gone on for too long. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and non-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member Egypt cut diplomatic, transport and trade ties with Qatar in June 2017, accusing it of supporting terrorism and their regional foe Shi'ite Muslim Iran - something Doha denies.
Myanmar court rejects appeal by jailed Reuters reporters
A Myanmar court on Friday rejected the appeal of two Reuters reporters sentenced to seven years in jail on charges of breaking the Official Secrets Act, saying the defense had not provided sufficient evidence to show they were innocent. Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, were convicted by a lower court in September in a landmark case that has raised questions about Myanmar's progress toward democracy and sparked an outcry from diplomats and human rights advocates.
Iran protests to Poland over Iran-focused summit
Iran's foreign ministry summoned a senior Polish diplomat to protest at Poland's jointly hosting a global summit with the United States focused on the Middle East, particularly Iran, state news agency IRNA reported on Sunday. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday the summit -- to be held in Warsaw on Feb. 13-14 - would focus on stability and security in the Middle East, including on the "important element of making sure that Iran is not a destabilizing influence".