World News Roundup: Qatar's top envoy visits Iran as Tehran and Washington consider direct nuclear talks; U.S. hopes to buoy Honduras President-elect Castro with Harris visit and more
The visit by Qatar's Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani's comes after his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amirabdollahian on Monday said Tehran is ready to consider direct talks with Washington if it feels it can get a "good nuclear deal". U.S. hopes to buoy Honduras President-elect Castro with Harris visit U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris visits Honduras on Thursday for the inauguration of leftist President-elect Xiomara Castro, whose assumption of power has been clouded by political turmoil that Washington hopes to alleviate with a show of solidarity.
Following is a summary of current world news briefs.
Qatar's top envoy visits Iran as Tehran and Washington consider direct nuclear talks
Qatar's top diplomat visited Iran on Thursday, state media in the two countries reported, days before Qatar's ruling emir holds talks in Washington at a crucial time for efforts by Tehran and major powers to revive a 2015 nuclear pact. The visit by Qatar's Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani comes after his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amirabdollahian on Monday said Tehran is ready to consider direct talks with Washington if it feels it can get a "good nuclear deal".
U.S. hopes to buoy Honduras President-elect Castro with Harris visit
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris visits Honduras on Thursday for the inauguration of leftist President-elect Xiomara Castro, whose assumption of power has been clouded by political turmoil that Washington hopes to alleviate with a show of solidarity. U.S. officials want to work with Castro to curb illegal immigration from Central America and shore up international support for Taiwan. Honduras is one of the few countries in the world maintaining diplomatic ties with Taipei.
Italy's Leonardo to make parts of new European military drone
Italy's Leonardo is set to build parts of a new European military drone, the director general of the aerospace group said on Thursday, after Spain gave its support to the new joint programme. "Spain's approval of the Eurodrone... paves the way for the signing of the contract on a key collaboration programme that strengthens Europe's strategic autonomy and sovereignty," Leonardo Director General Lucio Valerio Cioffi said.
UK PM Johnson has not been interviewed by police over party investigation -spokesman
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has not been interviewed by the police about their investigation into alleged parties in his Downing Street residence during coronavirus lockdowns, his spokesman said on Thursday. Asked if Johnson had been interviewed, the spokesman said: "No."
Hong Kong to cut quarantine for arrivals to 14 days from next month
Hong Kong will cut quarantine for arriving travellers to 14 days from 21 starting Feb. 5, leader Carrie Lam said on Thursday, a move that follows intense lobbying from finance executives and diplomats who said the measure was hurting competitiveness. Tough coronavirus rules have made Hong Kong one of the world's most isolated cities, with flights down as much as 90%.
North Korea fires two missiles as U.S. condemns flurry of tests
Nuclear-armed North Korea fired what appeared to be two short-range ballistic missiles on Thursday, drawing condemnation from the United States for what would be the sixth round of missile tests this month. The series of tests is among the most missiles ever launched by North Korea in a month, analysts said, as it begins 2022 with a dizzying display of new and operational weapons.
Tunisian opposition leader warns of social explosion
The speaker of Tunisia's suspended parliament, who also heads the main opposition party, warned on Thursday of a social situation that "threatens to explode" six months after what he calls a coup by the president. Rached Ghannouchi, head of the moderate Islamist Ennahda, said President Kais Saied's suspension of parliament, assumption of executive powers and move to rewrite the constitution had isolated Tunisia.
Israel sees Holocaust tropes in COVID protests fuelling anti-Semitism
Protesters against COVID-19 measures who liken themselves to Jews under Nazi persecution are stoking global anti-Semitism, the Israeli government said in a report marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Such Holocaust tropes have become "widespread" and, along with violent demonstrations linked to Israel's May war in Gaza, were main factors behind physical or online attacks on Jews in Europe and North America last year, said the 152-page report by the Diaspora Affairs Ministry.
Russia keeps door open after U.S. rejects key security demands
Russia said on Thursday it was clear the United States was not willing to address its main security concerns but kept the door open for further dialogue in their standoff over Ukraine. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow, which has massed tens of thousands of troops near Ukraine, would not rush to draw conclusions after Washington formally responded to Russian proposals for a redrawing of post-Cold War security arrangements in Europe.
UN urged to open query into Iran's 1988 killings and Raisi role
Prominent former U.N. judges and investigators have called on U.N. human rights boss Michelle Bachelet to investigate the 1988 "massacre" of political prisoners in Iran, including the alleged role of its current president, Ebrahim Raisi, at that time. The open letter released on Thursday, seen by Reuters, was signed by some 460 people, including a former president of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Sang-Hyun Song, and Stephen Rapp, a former U.S. ambassador for global criminal justice.
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