World News Roundup: South Korea drops outdoor mask rule but many prefer to keep them on; Spanish prime minister's mobile phone infected by Pegasus spyware, govt says and more
Tough coronavirus curbs in Shanghai have stirred rare public anger, with millions of the city's 25 million people stuck indoors for more than a month, some sealed inside fenced-off residential compounds and many struggling for daily necessities. Spanish prime minister's mobile phone infected by Pegasus spyware, govt says Spanish authorities have detected "Pegasus" spyware in the mobile phones of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Defence Minister Margarita Robles, the government minister for the presidency, Felix Bolanos, said on Monday.
Following is a summary of current world news briefs.
South Korea drops outdoor mask rule but many prefer to keep them on
South Korea has loosened rules requiring masks to be worn outdoors as COVID-19 cases drop, but many people are not taking them off yet due to pervasive Omicron infections. Health authorities lifted the mandate on Monday in the latest step to relax distancing curbs, even amid opposition from the transition team of President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol which has called the decision premature.
Spanish authorities have detected "Pegasus" spyware in the mobile phones of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Defence Minister Margarita Robles, the government minister for the presidency, Felix Bolanos, said on Monday. Bolanos told a news conference Sanchez's phone was infected in May 2021 and at least one data leak occurred then. He did not say who could have been spying on the premier or whether foreign or Spanish groups were suspected of being behind it.
Russia's Bolshoi drops shows by two directors who spoke out against the war
Russia's Bolshoi Theatre has upset opera and ballet fans by abruptly canceling a series of shows this week by directors who have spoken out against the war in Ukraine. The theatre gave no reason for dropping Timofey Kuliabin's production of the opera "Don Pasquale" and Kirill Serebrennikov's ballet "Nureyev".
Israel denounced Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday for suggesting that Adolf Hitler had Jewish origins, accusing Lavrov of spreading anti-Semitism and belittling the Holocaust. "Such lies are intended to accuse the Jews themselves of the most horrific crimes in history that were committed against them," Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in a statement.
Evacuation of civilians from Ukraine's besieged Mariupol stalls
Efforts to evacuate more civilians from the devastated Ukrainian port city of Mariupol ran into delays on Monday and hundreds of people remained trapped in the Azovstal steelworks, the last stronghold of resistance to the Russian siege. It was not clear what was causing the hold-up although a city official said earlier that Russian forces had on Sunday resumed shelling the plant after a convoy of buses had left.
Analysis-Iran nuclear deal near death, but West not ready to pull the plug
Western officials have largely lost hope the Iran nuclear deal can be resurrected, sources familiar with the matter said, forcing them to weigh how to limit Iran's atomic program even as Russia's invasion of Ukraine has divided the big powers. While they have not completely given up on the pact, under which Iran restrained its nuclear program in return for relief from economic sanctions, there is a growing belief it may be beyond salvation.
Saudi Arabia feels "let down" by the United States in tackling security threats to the kingdom and wider region by Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi movement, a senior member of the Saudi royal family and former intelligence chief said. Traditionally strong ties between Riyadh and Washington have been shaken under U.S. President Joe Biden by the 2018 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the hands of Saudi agents and the ruinous Yemen war in which a Saudi-led coalition has been battling the Houthis for seven years.
China's commercial capital of Shanghai was dealt a blow on Monday as authorities reported 58 new COVID-19 cases outside areas under strict lockdown, while Beijing pressed on with testing millions of people on a May Day holiday few were celebrating. Tough coronavirus curbs in Shanghai have stirred rare public anger, with millions of the city's 25 million people stuck indoors for more than a month, some sealed inside fenced-off residential compounds and many struggling for daily necessities.
Beijing concerned with rising North Korea tensions, envoy says in Seoul
Beijing is concerned about the tense situation on the Korean peninsula, China's Korean affairs envoy said as he arrived for talks in Seoul this week, adding that both the symptoms and root cause of tensions needed to be addressed. Amid stalled denuclearisation talks, North Korea has conducted a flurry of weapons tests this year, from hypersonic missiles to intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).
Japan PM to discuss defense, customs deals on Thailand trip
Japan is expected to announce a new defense agreement among several deals with Thailand on Monday during a visit by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, the last leg of his three-nation tour of Southeast Asia. The agreement, details of which have yet to be disclosed, would facilitate transfers of defense hardware and technology from Japan to Thailand, which has one of the region's biggest and most equipped militaries.
(With inputs from agencies.)