World News Roundup: NATO head schedules special meeting with Russia amid Ukraine crisis; Israel, in U.S. visa talks, eyes easing access for Palestinian-Americans and more
"It is a historic day for the LGBTQ struggle in Israel," Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz said at a news conference, announcing the ministry had issued a circular granting equal access for all to surrogate pregnancy. Drone attack on U.S. forces foiled west of Baghdad Two explosive-laden drones were shot down on Tuesday by Iraq's air defenses as they approached the Ain al-Asad air base, which hosts U.S. forces, west of Baghdad, an official of the U.S.-led international military coalition said.
Following is a summary of current world news briefs.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has scheduled a special meeting of allied ambassadors and top Russian officials for next week as both sides seek dialogue to prevent open conflict over Ukraine, a NATO official said on Tuesday. Worried about Russia's military build-up along Ukraine's border, the Western military alliance has been seeking a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council for months but the forum seemed in jeopardy after an espionage dispute in October.
Israel, in U.S. visa talks, eyes easing access for Palestinian-Americans
Israel is prepared to permit Palestinian-American dual nationals to transit its territory as part of an emerging U.S. visa waiver deal for its citizens, a top Israeli official said on Tuesday. With U.S.-sponsored peacemaking long-stalled and violence simmering in the occupied West Bank and in Gaza, Israel strictly limits access by Palestinians - including to the Tel Aviv and Eilat airports, both a few hours' drive from the territories.
Prince Andrew to urge dismissal of accuser's lawsuit in NY court showdown
Britain's Prince Andrew will on Tuesday urge a New York judge to dismiss Virginia Giuffre's lawsuit accusing the Duke of York of sexually abusing her when she was underage and also being trafficked by the late financier Jeffrey Epstein. U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan is expected to assess a November 2009 settlement agreement between Epstein and Giuffre, which the 61-year-old prince's lawyers have said shields Andrew from claims by the 38-year-old Giuffre.
Israel lifts restrictions on same-sex surrogacy
Israel on Tuesday lifted restrictions barring same-sex couples and single men from becoming parents through surrogacy within the country, upholding a Supreme Court ruling to end the ban. "It is a historic day for the LGBTQ struggle in Israel," Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz said at a news conference, announcing the ministry had issued a circular granting equal access for all to surrogate pregnancy.
Drone attack on U.S. forces foiled west of Baghdad
Two explosive-laden drones were shot down on Tuesday by Iraq's air defenses as they approached the Ain al-Asad air base, which hosts U.S. forces, west of Baghdad, an official of the U.S.-led international military coalition said. A similar attack was foiled on Monday, when Iraqi air defenses downed two drones as they approached a base hosting U.S. forces near Baghdad's international airport.
South Africa parliament blaze contained; National Assembly 'completely destroyed'
Authorities said on Tuesday they had finally contained a suspected arson fire at South Africa's parliament building after a second-day flare-up that completely destroyed the lower house National Assembly chamber. A 49-year-old man accused of setting the fire appeared in court to face five charges including arson and possession of an explosive device. A lawyer for suspect Zandile Christmas Mafe said he denied the accusations and would plead not guilty.
Brazil's Bolsonaro will not need surgery on gut blockage, medics say
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro will not need to undergo surgery after being hospitalized due to an intestinal obstruction, the medical team said in a note on Tuesday, adding that the gut blockage has been cleared. According to the note, Bolsonaro is showing a "satisfactory" clinical improvement and will start a liquid diet on Tuesday. Doctors had inserted a nasogastric tube right after his hospitalization.
US says troubled by Cambodian action against striking casino workers
The U.S. embassy in Cambodia said on Tuesday it was concerned by police action against workers protesting layoffs at a casino run by a Hong-Kong listed firm after a union leader was taken away in the latest series of detentions. Thousands of workers have been on strike since last month in front of Nagacorp Ltd's hotel and casino complex in Phnom Penh, demanding the reinstatement of 365 employees who were let go in April.
A former North Korean defector who made a risky and rare cross-border return home last week had struggled in South Korea, officials and media reports said on Tuesday, sparking fresh debate over how such defectors are treated in their new lives. South Korea's military identified the man who crossed the heavily armed Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas on Saturday as a North Korean who defected to the South in a similar area just over a year ago.
Italy parliament to begin voting for new head of state on Jan. 24
The Italian parliament will convene on Jan. 24 to begin voting for a new head of state to replace the outgoing Sergio Mattarella, the chief of the lower house of parliament ruled on Tuesday. The election of a new president of the republic may have major repercussions for the future of Prime Minister Mario Draghi's government, which is trying to contain a wave of COVID-19 infections.
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