World News Roundup: German CDU premier drops support for Laschet run; Biden to bar U.S. banks from buying Russian government and more
Following is a summary of current world news briefs.
German CDU premier drops support for Laschet chancellery run
A leading German Christian Democrat has called for the conservative bloc's choice of chancellor candidate for September's election to be dependent on popularity ratings, effectively shifting his support behind Bavarian Markus Soeder. With CDU Chancellor Angela Merkel stepping down after the election, pressure is mounting on the bloc to agree on a candidate as its ratings wallow near a one-year low, hurt by the government's chaotic handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
President Joe Biden will issue an executive order on Thursday authorizing the U.S. government to sanction any sector of the Russian economy and will use it to restrict Russia's ability to issue sovereign debt to punish Moscow for interfering in the 2020 U.S. election, senior Biden administration officials said. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Biden would bar U.S. financial institutions from taking part in the primary market for rouble-denominated Russian sovereign bonds from June 14. U.S. banks have been barred from taking part in the primary market for non-rouble sovereign bonds since 2019.
Myanmar security forces arrest prominent leader of anti-coup campaign
Myanmar security forces arrested on Thursday one of the main leaders of the campaign against military rule after ramming him with a car as he led a motorbike protest rally, friends and colleagues said. Opponents of a Feb. 1 coup that ousted an elected government led by Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi have kept up their campaign against the military this traditional New Year week with marches and various other displays of resistance.
Virus variants inciting India's second surge, epidemiologists say
The second surge of COVID-19 cases in India has swamped hospitals much faster than the first because mutations in the virus mean each patient is infecting many more people than before, epidemiologists and doctors say. India's daily infections skyrocketed more than 20-fold to more than 200,000 on Thursday since a multi-month-low in early February, though the government has played down the role of mutants in the latest rise, the worst anywhere this month.
Exclusive: From remote part of India, Myanmar's ousted lawmakers work on challenging junta
In a spartan hillside room in India furnished only with a thin sleeping mat, the Myanmar member of parliament spends much of his days attentively listening to Zoom conference calls and tapping away messages on his smartphone. The short, soft-spoken man is among roughly a dozen ousted Myanmar MPs who have fled across the border to India's remote northeastern region after the military's Feb. 1 coup and lethal crackdown on dissent.
WHO expects decision on emergency listing for Chinese vaccines soon
The World Health Organization will decide late this month or in May on emergency use listings for COVID-19 vaccines from Sinopharm and Sinovac following an extended review, a WHO European region official said on Thursday. "We are in touch with them to review the dossiers that have been submitted by both vaccine manufacturers," WHO-Europe vaccination expert Siddhartha Datta told a virtual press conference. "We will be hearing about a decision on the emergency use listing in April or early May, so please keep an eye on that."
Biden, Suga to send signal to assertive China at U.S.-Japan summit
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and U.S. President Joe Biden will highlight Tokyo's central role in Washington's strategy to counter the challenge of an increasingly assertive China at a summit on Friday. While that emphasis on Japan's key status will be welcome in Tokyo, where some politicians are pushing for a tougher stance towards Beijing, it also raises questions about how far Tokyo can go to meet demands on regional defence and human rights.
'Not afraid to shoot': Migration raises tension in Texas border town
Sheriff Joe Frank Martinez is worried. More migrants are crossing the U.S.-Mexico border near Del Rio, Texas than Martinez recalls in his 13 years as Val Verde County Sheriff. They wade across the Rio Grande river and into residents' yards.
Iran nuclear talks restart amid strains over enrichment move, Natanz attack
Iran and global powers resumed talks on Thursday to rescue the 2015 nuclear deal in an effort potentially complicated by Tehran's decision to ramp up uranium enrichment and what it called Israeli sabotage at a nuclear site. Casting a shadow over the Vienna talks, Tehran on Tuesday announced its decision to enrich uranium at 60% purity, a big step closer to the 90% that is weapons-grade material, in response to an explosion at its key Natanz facility on Sunday.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken flew to Kabul on Thursday to show support for the Afghan government a day after U.S. President Joe Biden announced that he was pulling out U.S. forces after nearly 20 years of war. Biden's decision precipitated a decision by NATO allies to withdraw their troops as well, even as the government of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani remains embroiled in fierce fighting with Taliban insurgents and a U.S.-backed peace process shrouded in uncertainty.
(With inputs from agencies.)