CELAC Summit concludes, issues joint declaration

Heads of State of the countries participating in the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) summit pose for a picture after the meeting in Buenos Aires, on January 24, 2023. (Photo: AFP)The 7th Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) concluded on Tuesday in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where representatives from 33 member states signed and issued the "Buenos Aires Declaration".The Declaration stresses the commitment of CELAC member states to jointly safeguard the rights and interests of the people in the region and to accelerate the realization of regional integration.

Chris Hipkins sworn in as New Zealand's 41st prime minister

This file photo taken on Oct. 18, 2020 shows Chris Hipkins in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo: Xinhua)WELLINGTON, Jan. 25 (Xinhua) -- Chris Hipkins was sworn in as New Zealand Prime Minister on Wednesday, with his predecessor Jacinda Ardern officially tendering her resignation.The swearing-in ceremony held in parliament saw Hipkins officially taking up the top job and Carmel Sepuloni becoming the deputy prime minister.Prime Minister Hipkins will reshuffle the cabinet next week. Besides the top leadership role, Hipkins himself will be the minister of national security and intelligence.Tackling inflation will be his priority, he said, as Stats NZ released on Wednesday the growth of New Zealands consumers price index remained 7.2 percent in the 12 months to December 2022.Announcing her resignation last Thursday, Ardern said, after five and a half years of the top leadership role, she could not keep going for another year or term after careful consideration."Being prime minister has been the greatest honor of my life," Ardern said, citing her cabinets achievement in alleviating child poverty and increasing welfare support and public housing stock.On Tuesday with the presence of her successor Hipkins, Ardern made a de facto farewell speech as New Zealand prime minister.The outgoing Labor leader on her last day as prime minister said her departure should not be viewed as a negative commentary on New Zealand."I have experienced such love, compassion, empathy and kindness when Ive been in this job -- that has been my predominant experience," Ardern said while visiting the town of Ratana with Hipkins.Ardern said she is not going anywhere and will still be the Member of Parliament for Mt Albert and she will be away from the center of politics.Travelling with Ardern, Hipkins said he and Ardern have reflected on the last few years, adding "its a bittersweet moment."New Zealands 2023 general election will be held on Oct. 14, 2...

12 rescued after cargo ship with 22 aboard capsizes on high seas SE of Jeju

South Korean coast guards search for crew members of a cargo ship that sank in waters between South Korea and Japan, January 25, 2023. (Photo: CFP)Twelve people were rescued after a cargo ship with 22 people aboard capsized on the high seas southeast of Jeju late Tuesday, South Korean media outlet News1 reported, citing the countrys coast guard.Eleven of the 12 rescued were unconscious, as per the report.Efforts to rescue the remaining 10 of the Hong Kong-registered vessels crew are ongoing.The coast guard identified the 22 crew members as 14 Chinese and eight Myanmar nationals, as per the report.The vessel made the distress call early Wednesday.

Cessna plane missing hours after takeoff in Philippines

(File photo: CFP)A Cessna plane was missing a few hours after takeoff in Cauayan city of Isabela in the Philippines on Tuesday, ABS-CBN News reported, citing the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).The identity of the plane and the number of passengers are still unknown, according to the report.

IAEA deploys permanent mission at Ukraine's Khmelnytsky nuclear plant

KIEV, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has deployed its permanent monitoring mission at Khmelnytsky nuclear power plant in western Ukraine, thus completing the establishment of its representation in the country, Ukrainian authorities said Tuesday.The missions main tasks are to maintain nuclear and radiation safety at the facility amid the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine said in a statement.Last week, the IAEA established its missions at three other nuclear plants, namely Rivne in western Ukraine, Pivdennoukrainsk in the south, and Chernobyl plant in the north, the agency said.In August last year, the IAEA sent its monitoring mission to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine, which Russian forces have controlled since March.There are five nuclear power plants in Ukraine, four of which are functioning. The Chernobyl power plant, which witnessed a nuclear disaster on April 26, 1986, was completely shut down on Dec. 15, 2000.

Senior Ukrainian officials step down amid corruption claims

Several senior Ukrainian officials stepped down on Tuesday after President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for "justice" amid high-level corruption allegations.Five Ukrainian regional governors from Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhzhia, Kyiv, Sumy and Kherson were dismissed on Tuesday, according to the Ukrainian government. It also approved the resignations of the deputy minister for communities and territories development and deputy minister of social policy."There are already personnel decisions – some today, some tomorrow – regarding officials at various levels in ministries and other central government structures, as well as in the regions and in law enforcement," Zelenskyy said in an overnight video address.Not all of the resignations were linked to corruption allegations.Early on Tuesday, Deputy Defense Minister Viacheslav Shapovalov, responsible for supplying troops, resigned after media allegations of a food procurement scandal, which he denies.Deputy Prosecutor General Oleksiy Symonenko and the deputy head of Zelenskyys office, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, also stepped down, citing no reason for their departures.The changes came two days after a deputy infrastructure minister was arrested and accused of siphoning off $400,000 from contracts to buy generators, one of the first big corruption scandals to become public since the Ukraine conflict began 11 months ago.In his video address, Zelenskyy said the dismissal of the deputy minister sent a signal to "all those whose actions or behavior violate the principle of justice." He said Ukraines focus on the conflict would not stop his government from fighting against corruption.

Ukraine proposes non-aggression pact with Belarus: Lukashenko

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. (Photo: Xinhua)President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko said on Tuesday that Ukraine has proposed signing a non-aggression pact with the country.Kyiv has not yet confirmed or denied Lukashenkos remarks.Lukashenko did not specify the terms of the alleged non-aggression pact, nor did he say when it was proposed.

PKK 'terrorists' in N. Iraq almost eliminated: Turkish defense minister

ANKARA, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- Türkiye has wiped out almost all the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) "terrorists" in the Zap region in northern Iraq, Turkish defence ministry said on Tuesday.Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said in a press release that a total of 506 "terrorists" have been eliminated since Türkiye launched Operation Claw-Lock, a cross-border operation against the PKK "terrorists," in April, 2022.The operation has also destroyed about 600 caves and shelters where the "terrorists" have been hiding for years, said Akar, noting that the operation successfully secures the 302-km-border between Türkiye and Iraq.The PKK, listed as a terror organization by Türkiye, the United States and the European Union, has been rebelling against the Turkish government for more than three decades.

2 police officers killed in SE Iran

TEHRAN, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- Two police officers were killed early Tuesday in an attack by several "thugs" in the southeastern Iranian province of Sistan and Baluchestan, Irans official news agency IRNA reported.The two police officers, identified as Mokhtar Momeni and Abouzar Omidvar, were assaulted at around 02:00 a.m. local time (2230 GMT) when patrolling with their colleagues at the entrance to Bampur County, Police Commander of the province Mohammad Qanbari was quoted as saying.The "thugs" fled the scene after the attack, according to Qanbari.Some clues have been found and search was underway to arrest the suspects, he noted.

Iran condemns sanctions imposed by EU, Britain and threatens retaliation

Photo: Irans Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani holds a press conference in Tehran, Iran, July 13, 2022. /CFPIran on Tuesday strongly condemned new sanctions imposed by the European Union (EU) and Britain and said it would retaliate, after the West stepped up pressure on Iran over its crackdown on protests."The Islamic Republic will soon announce the list of new sanctions against the human rights violators of EU and England," Irans Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said in a statement. EU imposed sanctions on more than 30 Iranian officials and organisations, including units of the powerful Revolutionary Guards, blaming them for a "brutal" crackdown on unrest and other human rights abuses.The United States and Britain also issued new sanctions against Iran, reflecting a deterioration in the Wests already dire relations with Tehran.The sanctions are the latest response to Irans deadly clampdown on unrest after the death of young Iranian Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in morality police custody in September.

Australian PM announces alcohol restrictions amid Outback crime crisis

CANBERRA, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced new restrictions on Tuesday to curb a crime crisis in central Australia.Albanese met with community leaders in Alice Springs, the largest city in the Australian Outback, Tuesday evening to discuss a spike of alcohol-fuelled violence in the region.The visit came after days of intense pressure from the Opposition for the federal government to intervene in the crisis.According to data from Northern Territory (NT) Police, assaults in Alice Springs have increased by 43 percent over the last year.After meeting with representatives of the Indigenous community, law enforcement and the NT government, Albanese said alcohol sales would be limited to one transaction per person per day.Monday and Tuesday will be "takeaway alcohol-free days" and takeaway alcohol sales will be limited to between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. every other day."These are complex problems in Alice Springs and they require a full solution, which requires different levels of government to work together," Albanese told reporters.The new measures will be in place for an initial period of three months.Natasha Fyles, the chief minister of the NT, conceded that not everyone would welcome the restrictions but said they were necessary."So I do ask the community to understand we do not take these decisions lightly but these are measures to reduce the amount of alcohol in our community," she said."It is a decision that police fully support and by reducing that amount of alcohol, we will reduce the harm."

Finland may have to consider NATO application without Sweden: FM

File photoHELSINKI, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said Tuesday that Finland might have to reconsider promoting a joint, simultaneous entry of Finland and Sweden into NATO if Swedens application is delayed much longer.Joint entry with Sweden still remains the priority, with a view to the Finnish and Swedish security interests, Haavisto told an interview with the national broadcaster Yle on Tuesday.Haavisto made the comment following a statement by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday night that Sweden should not expect Türkiyes endorsement to join NATO after a Quran was burned outside the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm Saturday.The minister said recent protests in Sweden had delayed the processing of the Swedish and Finnish NATO applications. He believes that the protesters aim to provoke Türkiye and influence the opinions of its citizens and politicians.Finland and Swedens NATO path will now be delayed at least until Türkiyes parliamentary and presidential elections in mid-May, said Haavisto.Finland, Sweden and Türkiye are trying to schedule a new tripartite meeting "in early spring" to assess the situation, Haavisto said.

Eurozone returns to growth after six-month crunch: data

Flags flutter outside the headquarters of the European Central Bank in Frankfurt, Germany. (Photo: CFP)The eurozone economy grew in January for the first time in six months, a closely watched survey showed Tuesday, raising hopes that Europe will avoid a recession this winter.The S&P Global Flash Eurozone purchasing managers index (PMI) rose to 50.2 in January from 49.3 in December. A figure above 50 indicates growth.

New natural gas reserve discovered in Bangladesh

DHAKA, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- Bangladesh has discovered a new natural gas reserve in the southern part of the country with the possibility of a significant amount of fossil fuel in the new structure.The gas structure in Bhola district has been discovered by the state-run Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration and Production Company Limited (BAPEX).Bangladeshi State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid announced the discovery of the new gas reserve on Monday.According to a statement from his ministry, the newly discovered Bhola North-2 Appraisal Well has probable gas extraction of over 20 million cubic feet per day.BAPEX struck gas by digging about 3,428 meters deep.Petrobangla (Bangladesh Oil, Gas & Mineral Corporation) will dig 46 new exploration, development and work-over wells by 2025, the minister wrote on his Facebook page.Also, the minister stressed the need for continuing exploration for natural gas in the South Asian country.Over the last few years, BAPEX discovered about a dozen small- to medium-sized fields.The biggest field so far is in Bhola, an offshore island covering an area of 3,403.48 sq km and about 205 km south of the capital Dhaka, which boasts hundreds of billions of cubic feet of reserves.

US proposes once-a-year COVID-19 shots for most Americans

File photoU.S. health officials want to make COVID-19 vaccinations more like the annual flu shot.The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Monday proposed a simplified approach for future vaccination efforts, allowing most adults and children to get a once-a-year shot to protect against the mutating virus.This means Americans would no longer have to keep track of how many shots theyve received or how many months its been since their last booster.The proposal comes as boosters have become a hard sell. While more than 80 percent of the U.S. population has had at least one vaccine dose, only 16 percent of those eligible have received the latest boosters authorized in August.The FDA will ask its panel of outside vaccine experts to weigh in at a meeting Thursday. The agency is expected to consider their advice while deciding future vaccine requirements for manufacturers.In documents posted online, FDA scientists say many Americans now have "sufficient preexisting immunity" against the coronavirus because of vaccination, infection or a combination of the two. That baseline of protection should be enough to move to an annual booster against the latest strains in circulation and make COVID-19 vaccinations more like the yearly flu shot, according to the agency.A two-dose combination may be needed for protection for adults with weakened immune systems and very small children. FDA scientists and vaccine companies would study vaccination, infection rates and other data to decide who should receive a single shot versus a two-dose series.FDA will also ask its panel to vote on whether all vaccines should target the same strains. That step would be needed to make the shots interchangeable, doing away with the current complicated system of primary vaccinations and boosters.The initial shots from Pfizer and Moderna – called the primary series – target the strain of the virus that first emerged in 2020 and quickly swept across the world. The updated boosters launch...

Somali forces kill 39 al-Shabab militants in central region

MOGADISHU, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- The Somali National Army on Monday killed 39 al-Shabab militants after heavy fighting near the central town of Harardhere, said a military official.The local forces backed by international partners killed the militants who had burned down a commuter bus when escaping from the battlefield, the Commander for the Infantry Mohamed Tahlil Bihi told the state-run Radio Mogadishu on Monday."Our forces are making progress on the war against terrorists on several fronts," said Bihi.The fighting came a day after the militant group carried out a deadly attack on Sunday in Somalias capital Mogadishu.

WHO investigating possible links in cough syrup deaths: Reuters

A World Health Organization (WHO) logo outside a WHO building in Geneva, Switzerland, April 6, 2021. /ReutersThe World Health Organization (WHO) is investigating whether any links exist between the manufacturers whose contaminated cough syrups it has tied to the deaths in three countries of more than 300 children, most of them under the age of five, Reuters reported on Tuesday, citing a person familiar with the matter.Over the past four months, at least seven countries have reported several incidents of over-the-counter childrens cough syrups having confirmed or suspected contamination with high levels of diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol, the WHO said in a press release on Monday.

Jacinda Ardern delivers final address as New Zealand PM

New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern announces her resignation at the Napier War Memorial Centre, New Zealand, January 19, 2023. /CFPJacinda Ardern delivered her de facto farewell speech as New Zealand prime minister on Tuesday in the presence of her successor, Chris Hipkins."I have experienced such love, compassion, empathy and kindness when Ive been in this job – that has been my predominant experience," Ardern said while visiting the North Island town of Ratana with Hipkins.Ardern explained that although she will remain as the Member of Parliament for Mt Albert, she will distance herself from the center of politics.Ardern became prime minister in a coalition government in 2017 and then led her center-left Labour Party to a comprehensive victory in an election three years later.On January 19, she announced in a televised statement that she will step down no later than February 7 and will not seek re-election.She said in the statement that she was proud of being prime minister and cited her cabinets achievement in alleviating child poverty, increasing welfare support and public housing stock.The left-leaning global icon gained attention for bringing her baby to a United Nations meeting and wearing a hijab after a massacre targeting Muslims. Hipkins, the countrys former health minister overseeing the COVID-19 response, was the only person nominated to take over as Labour Party leader. He was first elected to parliament in 2008.

Chinese consulate in LA says Chinese among dead in shooting

Police investigate the scene of a shooting in Monterey Park, California, January 22, 2023. /APThe Chinese Consulate General in Los Angeles confirmed on Monday that at least one Chinese citizen was among those killed in the Monterey Park shooting that left at least 11 people dead.The fatal incident occurred at 10:22 p.m. Saturday local time in Star Ballroom Dance Studio, a popular ballroom dance facility that has been operating for about 30 years when it was hosting an event to celebrate the countdown to the Chinese New Year.The mass shooting left 11 dead and 9 wounded as of Monday, according to the authorities. All victims are over their 50s."It is currently confirmed that a Chinese citizen was unfortunately killed in the incident," the consulates spokesman said in a statement posted on its official website. "We are working with relevant domestic departments and the United States to assist in dealing with the aftermath."The statement noted that the mass shooting, the most fatal one in the U.S. since the start of the year, happened in a local Chinese community during celebrations of the Chinese New Year and was "shocking and deeply regretted."The consulate also expressed condolences to local Chinese communities, including Monterey Park, a city of 61,000 residents located on the eastern edge of Los Angeles with a majority Asian American population, while reminding local Chinese citizens of safety awareness.The Chinese embassy and consulates in the United States have flown Chinese flags at half-staff to mourn the victims.UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday extended his condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims, and expressed solidarity with the Asian-American community in the U.S., according to his spokesman Stephane Dujarric.Following the shooting, U.S. President Joe Biden on Sunday night ordered American flags on federal government property to be flown at half-staff until Thursday at sundown to honor the ...

Australia to sign global education treaty

CANBERRA, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- The Australian government said on Tuesday that it will sign up to a global education agreement to benefit international students.File photo: CGTNEducation Minister Jason Clare and Minister for Skills and Training Brendan OConnor confirmed that Australia will endorse the UNESCO Global Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education.Developed in 2019, the treaty will make it easier for students to have their school qualifications recognized in another country, allowing them to pursue further study there.It will also allow tertiary students to transfer their study credits to an institution in another country."Australias ratification of the global convention is a significant education milestone," Clare said in a statement."The 1.4 million students who study at our universities each year can now have even greater confidence that their Australian qualification, whether undertaken onshore, offshore or online, will be recognized in other countries, helping them to access higher education abroad, as well as pursue greater employment opportunities."Australia is one of the biggest international education markets in the world, hosting about 750,000 student visa holders in 2019 prior to the COVID-19 pandemic restricting international travel."Australia has a comprehensive education and training system with established pathways across school, vocational education and training, higher education and employment," OConnor said."Being part of the Global Convention will boost international recognition of Australias world-class, vocational education and training graduates who are equipped with skills ready for the jobs of the 21st century," the minister said.

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