World News Roundup: 'We don't want wars': Russia softens tone on Ukraine, weighs US answers; N.Korea confirms latest weapons tests as Kim visits key munitions factory and more
Russia has massed troops near Ukraine's border but says it does not plan to invade, with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov saying on Friday that if it depended on Russia, there would be no war.
Following is a summary of current world news briefs.
Russia on Friday sent its strongest signal so far that it is willing to engage with U.S. security proposals and reiterated that it does not want war over Ukraine. "If it depends on Russia, then there will be no war. We don't want wars. But we also won't allow our interests to be rudely trampled, to be ignored," Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Russian radio stations in an interview.
N.Korea confirms latest weapons tests as Kim visits key munitions factory
North Korea conducted tests of an upgraded long-range cruise missile and a warhead of a tactical guided missile this week, as leader Kim Jong Un visited a munitions factory producing a "major weapon system," state media KCNA said on Friday. Tension has been simmering over North Korea's series of six weapons tests in 2022, among the largest number of missile launches it has made in a month. The launches have triggered international condemnation and a new sanctions push from the United States.
'Bloody Sunday' still scars Northern Ireland 50 years on
Five decades after British soldiers killed 13 unarmed Catholic civil rights marchers on one of the defining days of the Northern Ireland conflict, relatives are still searching for the justice they believe is needed for a scarred society to heal. Family and friends of the 13 Catholics who died in Londonderry on "Bloody Sunday", Jan. 30, 1972 - and of a 14th who died later of his wounds - gathered this week for a series of commemorations to mark the event that helped fuel three decades of bitter sectarian and political violence.
Pope says fake news, disinformation on COVID, is human rights violation
Pope Francis said on Friday that spreading fake news and disinformation on COVID-19 and vaccines, including by Catholic media, is a violation of human rights. It was the second time in less than month that the 85-year-old pope has spoken out on the subject. Three weeks ago, he condemned "baseless" ideological misinformation about vaccines, backing national immunisation campaigns and calling health care a moral obligation.
The European military mission fighting Islamist militants in Mali will forge a new plan of action within two weeks after the country's ruling military junta demanded the withdrawal of Danish special forces, Denmark's defence minister said on Friday. Denmark said on Thursday it was pulling its troops out after the junta insisted on an immediate withdrawal, even though France and 14 other European countries had urged the junta to allow Danish special forces to remain in Mali.
Germany expelled Russian diplomat over space tech spying -Spiegel
Germany last year expelled a spy who was working under diplomatic cover at Russia's consulate in Munich, Der Spiegel newsmagazine reported on Friday. It said the accredited diplomat was an officer of Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) who was acting as handling agent for the Russian academic whose arrest on spying charges was announced on Thursday.
Germany's spy chief says Moscow has yet to make final decision on attacking Ukraine
Russia is prepared to attack Ukraine but has not yet decided whether to do so, the head of Germany's foreign intelligence service (BND) said amid escalating tensions between Moscow and Kyiv. Russia has massed troops near Ukraine's border but says it does not plan to invade, with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov saying on Friday that if it depended on Russia, there would be no war. The United States has spent weeks trying to build agreement with European partners on a strong sanctions package if Russia attacks.
Russia says it wants peace but has 'gun on the table' - U.S. envoy
Russia says it does not want war but has placed a "gun on the table" in its negotiations with the United States by massing troops on Ukraine's borders, U.S. Ambassador to Moscow John Sullivan said on Friday. In an online briefing from Moscow, Sullivan described the buildup of tens of thousands of Russian troops as "extraordinary" and said it could not be explained as an ordinary military exercise or exercises.
Bachelet visit must guarantee full access to China's Xinjiang - spokesperson
U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet is in talks with China for a possible visit in the first half of 2022, but it must be "meaningful, with unsupervised access" to the Xinjiang region, her spokesperson Rupert Colville told Reuters on Friday. Earlier the South China Morning Post, citing unidentified sources, said that China had agreed that Bachelet can visit Xinjiang after the Beijing Olympics, but activists and a Western diplomat expressed doubt after years of stalled talks.
London police call for limits on so-called 'partygate' report
An inquiry into COVID-19 lockdown-breaking gatherings in Downing Street that might determine the future of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson could be further delayed after the police asked for the report to make only "minimal reference" to those events. Johnson, facing the gravest threat to his premiership over the alleged lockdown-busting parties at his residence and office at Number 10, has so far weathered growing calls to resign over the events, asking for lawmakers to wait for the report.
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