32 peacekeepers killed in malicious attacks in 2022: UN Staff Union

UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- At least 32 UN peacekeeping personnel were slain in deliberate attacks last year, with the Mali mission suffering the most, the UN Staff Union said Friday.File photo: CFPAmong the 32 fatalities were 28 military and 4 police personnel, including a woman police officer, said the Staff Union in a press release.For the ninth year in a row, the mission in Mali, known by its French acronym as MINUSMA, suffered the most fatalities, with 14 deaths in 2022, followed by 13 killed from the mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo."Peacekeepers and the civilian personnel who work side by side with them are on the front lines of the United Nations work in the worlds most challenging environments," said Staff Union President Aitor Arauz in the press release."Each malicious attack against UN personnel is a blow to peacekeeping, one of the pillars of the multilateral edifice," Arauz said. "It is a collective responsibility of the international community to put in place appropriate mechanisms to ensure accountability for these heinous acts, which may constitute war crimes under international law."The union said that the 32 killed in 2022 brings to 494 UN and associated personnel killed in deliberate attacks in the past 13 years from improvised explosive devices, rocket-propelled grenades, artillery fire, mortar rounds, landmines, armed and successive ambushes, convoy attacks, suicide attacks and targeted assassinations.It said the peacekeepers who died in 2022, by country, were 7 from Egypt, 7 from Pakistan, 4 from Chad, 3 from Bangladesh, 2 from India, 2 from Nigeria, 1 each from Guinea, Ireland, Jordan, Morocco, Nepal, Russia and Serbia.

Serbia agrees to consider Western proposal on Kosovo and Metohija

Serbias President Aleksandar Vucic discussed the issue of his countrys autonomous province of Kosovo and Metohija on Friday with representatives of the European Union (EU), the United States (U.S.), France, Germany and Italy in an attempt to resolve the frozen conflict between Belgrade and Pristina amid frequent tensions in the province.Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic speaks during an annual public address in Belgrade, Serbia, January 4, 2023. /CFPThe meeting here was attended by the EU Special Representative Miroslav Lajcak, the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary overseeing policy towards the countries of the Western Balkans Gabriel Escobar, the advisors on foreign and security policy to the French president and German chancellor, Emmanuel Bonne and Jens Plettner, respectively, and the diplomatic adviser to the prime minister of Italy, Francesco Talo."What we agree on is that a frozen conflict is not a solution and that when you have a frozen conflict, it is only a matter of time when someone will unfreeze it and when irresponsible individuals will collapse the peace and stability of the entire Western Balkans," Vucic said after the meeting, according to the press release of the presidents office.In 2022, the fragile dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina was interrupted by tensions around the validity of Serbian identity documents, travel documents and license plates, which resulted in Serbs quitting Kosovos institutions and protests.Vucic expressed Serbias willingness to consider the "plan proposed in September 2022" in light of "problems and challenges that would be put before our country if we did not agree with the proposed plan."According to the version leaked to the media, the aim of the proposed plan is to achieve "full normalization" of relations between Belgrade and Pristina."We are ready to accept the concept and work on the implementation of the proposed plan, with the fact that ...

Experts stress importance of global biodiversity targets in Davos

DAVOS, Switzerland, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- Experts have underscored the importance of meeting the goals and targets of a landmark biodiversity agreement on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting 2023.File photo: AFP"A truly historical, ground-breaking, and landmark agreement," said Jane Nelson, director of the Corporate Responsibility Initiative at Harvard Kennedy School, on Thursday of the recent UN biodiversity deal.Under the leadership of China, the deal, entitled Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, was adopted at the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP15) to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity last month, setting four long-term goals for 2050 and 23 global targets over the decade to 2030 for preserving nature.According to the targets set by the framework, by 2030, at least 30 percent of degraded terrestrial, inland water and coastal and marine ecosystems will be under effective restoration."When one considers that an estimated only 17 percent of lands and less than 8 percent of marine areas are currently protected, this is an ambitious goal, but its doable," she said.There were plenty of discussions during the Davos week concerning how a company can achieve net-zero emissions and become nature-positive, Katell Le Goulven, executive director of the Hoffmann Global Institute for Business and Society, told Xinhua."It is very important because this global framework asks companies to report and disclose the risk exposure to nature and their dependency on nature," she stressed.Time sensitivity is crucial, said Peter Fearnhead, chief executive officer of African Parks, a non-governmental organization focused on conservation.Considering governance challenges in some countries, poverty levels in Africa and growing populations, the world must succeed in achieving the 2030 targets, Fearnhead said at a session of the WEF annual meeting.

Peoples of Cambodia, China always stick together through thick and thin: PM

PHNOM PENH, Jan. 21 (Xinhua) -- Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen has extended best wishes for the Chinese Lunar New Year, saying that the peoples of Cambodia and China have always shared weal and woe since ancient times.A woman shops for festive decorations ahead of the Chinese Lunar New Year in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on Jan. 17, 2023. (Photo: Xinhua)In a recent message to the Chinese people and the Cambodians of Chinese descent, Hun Sen wished them good health, happiness and success in all their endeavors in the New Year."On the occasion of the upcoming Chinese Lunar New Year, the Year of the Rabbit, I would like to congratulate and join in the fun with all Chinese people and Cambodians of Chinese descent, who have always lived and stuck together through thick and thin since ancient times," he said."I would like to express my particular thanks to the Federation of Khmer Chinese in Cambodia, Chinese people and Cambodians of Chinese descent around the world for having invested and actively contributed to the development of Cambodia," he added.In a public speech during a visit to the construction site of a new hospital in the capitals northwestern suburb on Thursday, Hun Sen said his wife, Bun Rany, is a Cambodian of Chinese ancestry and that his family also celebrates the Chinese New Year.The 2023 Chinese Lunar New Year, or the Spring Festival, will fall on Sunday.On Saturday, folk artists from six different troupes jointly performed lion dance at the Royal Palace here, receiving warm welcome from Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Royal Palace Minister Kong Sam Ol.Sambo Manara, vice president of the Pannasastra University of Cambodia, said the Chinese New Year has gained its popularity in the Southeast Asian nation from year to year thanks to the close ties in politics, economics and culture between the two countries."A large number of Cambodians have Chinese ancestry, and we estimate that about 80 percent of Cambodians liv...

6.8-magnitude quake hits 24 km SW of Campo Gallo, Argentina: USGS

NEW YORK, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.8 jolted 24 km SW of Campo Gallo, Argentina at 22:09:39 GMT on Friday, the U.S. Geological Survey said.The epicenter, with a depth of 610.671 km, was initially determined to be at 26.7209 degrees south latitude and 63.0394 degrees west longitude.

New Omicron subvariant accounts for nearly half US new COVID infections

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- New Omicron subvariant XBB.1.5 is estimated to account for 49.1 percent of the COVID-19 cases in the United States for the week ending Jan. 21, according to data released Friday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).A general view shows UPMC Hamot Surgery Center in Erie, Pennsylvania, on August 13, 2022. (File photo: AFP)The subvariant XBB.1.5 is spreading quickly in the United States. It made up 35.5 percent of the total cases in the week ending Jan. 7, rising to 37.2 percent in the week ending Jan. 14, according to the CDC.XBB.1.5 is currently the most transmissible variant in the country. The subvariant may spur more COVID-19 cases based on genetic characteristics and early growth rate estimates, according to the World Health Organization.Another two dominant Omicron subvariants BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 accounted for about 40 percent of new COVID-19 cases in the United States in the latest week, CDC data showed.

Thailand sees more inbound Chinese flights during Spring Festival

BANGKOK, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- Thailand is expected to welcome more Chinese flights during the Spring Festival following Chinas optimization of the COVID-19 response, Thai transport authorities said Friday.Women pose for a photo in front of a temple in Chinatown in Bangkok on January 19, 2023, ahead of the Lunar New Year of the Rabbit. (File photo: AFP)From Jan. 19 to Jan. 25, 240 flights from China have been scheduled to arrive at Thailands four main international airports, Aeronautical Radio of Thailand (AEROTHAI) President Nopasit Chakpitak said in a statement.A daily average of the expected incoming flights from China during the Chinese New Year period has increased to 34 from 18 in the regular flight schedule, Nopasit said.The AEROTHAI expected a total of 1,160 inbound Chinese flights this month, as compared with 12,209 flights in January 2019 before the pandemic, he said.Thailand would see a gradual increase in the number of flights from China, particularly in the second half of this year, the statement said, adding that flights between the two countries would be back to pre-pandemic levels next year.

Drones target US outpost in Syria, no American injuries

Three drones targeted a U.S. base in Syrias Al-Tanf region on Friday but no American troops were injured, the U.S. military said in a statement.U.S. Central Command said two of the drones were shot down while the remaining drone hit the compound, injuring two members of the Syrian Free Army forces.Source(s): Reuters

Germany records highest annual sick leave rate in 25 yrs

BERLIN, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- The rate of sick leave among employees in Germany reached 5.5 percent in 2022, a record high since the rate was first recorded in 1997, health insurance company DAK-Gesundheit said on Friday.View of the sliding doors offering access to the intensive care unit (ICU) at the pediatric ward of Berlins Saint Joseph Hospital on December 13, 2022. (File photo: AFP)German employees were on sick leave for almost 20 days on average last year, an increase of 38 percent year on year, according to the companys analysis, which is based on data from about 2.4 million DAK-insured employees in Germany."This record level of sick leave is alarming and should be a wake-up call for the economy," said Andreas Storm, CEO of DAK-Gesundheit, in a statement.He added that although the number of severe COVID-19 cases has decreased significantly, the "high level of sick leave has a massive impact on the labor market."Respiratory diseases, such as colds and bronchitis, were responsible for most days of absence from work. The sickness rate caused by this group of diseases soared 172 percent compared to the previous year, according to DAK.The situation is unlikely to improve in the short term. "A high number of viral respiratory illnesses can still be expected due to seasonal factors in the coming weeks," the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) warned in its latest weekly report.

France's Macron announces increase in defense spending in 2024-2030

French President Emmanuel Macron greets soldiers as he visits the Mont-de-Marsan air base, southwestern France, to deliver his New Year address to the French Army on January 20, 2023. (Photo: AFP)French President Emmanuel Macron said in his New Year address to the army on Friday that 400 billion euros ($433.16 billion) would be assigned to the military budget in 2024-2030, up from 295 billion euros in 2019-2025.Source(s): Reuters

Chris Hipkins set to replace Jacinda Ardern as New Zealand PM

Chris Hipkins is set to replace Jacinda Ardern as New Zealands prime minister, after the governing Labor Party said on Saturday that he had emerged as the only candidate nominated to be its new leader.COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins speaks during a COVID-19 response update in Parliament on November 24, 2021 in Wellington, New Zealand.Hipkins is expected to be confirmed at a meeting of Labors 64 lawmakers on Sunday.Source(s): Reuters

Gabon's FM dies of heart arrest

LIBREVILLE, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- Gabons Foreign Minister Michael Moussa Adamo died of a heart arrest, the Gabonese government announced in a statement on Friday.Michael Moussa Adamo, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Gabon, attends a UN Security Council ministerial debate over international peace and security, conflict and food security at UN headquarters in New York on May 19, 2022. (File photo: AFP)"On January 20, 2023, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Michael Moussa-Adamo suffered a heart arrest (...) Admitted to intensive care and despite the efforts of specialists, the death was confirmed at 12:12 p.m. today," the statement said.

Botswana won't test travelers from China upon arrival: minister

Photo: VCGGABORONE, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- Botswana wont test travelers upon arrival, unlike some Western countries that have imposed restrictions targeting travelers from China, the countrys Health Minister Edwin Dikoloti said Thursday.Botswana trusts Chinas strategy of containing any kind of highly virulent diseases, especially COVID-19, as China did successfully when the epidemic broke out, the minister told Xinhua by phone.There is no need to doubt Chinas ability in fighting viral diseases, he said."In fact, Botswana gained a lot from the ideas shared by China when the pandemic reached our shores in March 2020. If it were not for China, Botswana would have lost many lives," he said.The West must allow science to guide the fight against COVID-19 because politicizing the disease wont help; instead, it would reverse the gains achieved so far, he added.

Wall Street appears headed for first weekly loss of 2023

Premarket trading on Wall Street is mixed Friday as recession fears threaten to drag major indexes to their first weekly decline of the year.Futures for the Dow are flat after early declines, while the S&P 500 is up 0.3%. The Dow is down almost 4% this week, the S&P is down 2.5%, and the tech heavy Nasdaq composite is down 2% this week amid tens of thousands of layoffs across the sector.(Photo: agency)Growing concern that the Federal Reserve and other central banks will keep interest rates elevated for an extended period — even if it means letting major economies slip into recession — has gripped markets this week.In separate appearances Thursday, Fed board member Lael Brainard and European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde affirmed plans to maintain heightened interest rates despite hints that inflation and economic growth is cooling.“That again implies more hikes to come and then a long hiatus, not the imminent reversal markets are pricing for,” Rabobank said in a report.Recent economic data has shown weakness in the U.S. housing industry and manufacturing in the mid-Atlantic region, though they weren’t as bad as expected and the job market appears healthy. Those followed worse readings than expected Wednesday on retail sales, a cornerstone of the economy, and industrial production.Some economists expect a U.S. recession this year but most expect that if it does occur, it will be brief.The Fed’s key lending rate is 4.25% to 4.50%, up from close to zero one year ago. Its next rate decision will be announced Feb. 1. Analysts expect an increase of 0.25 percentage points, smaller than previous hikes of up to 0.75 percentage points.Job cuts in the technology sector continued Friday, with Google parent company Alphabet announcing that it was laying off 12,000 workers. Earlier this week, Microsoft announced 10,000 job cuts, or nearly 5% of its workforce. Amazon is cutting 18,000 jobs and Facebook parent Meta is shedding 11,000 positions.Other tech companie...

Pakistani PM meets Russian energy minister on oil, gas supply

ISLAMABAD, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif met with a Russian delegation led by Energy Minister Nikolai Shulginov on Friday, discussing matters related to oil and gas supply."Both sides agreed on the importance of the energy sector for the development of bilateral economic and trade relations. In this regard views were exchanged on supplying oil and gas from Russia to Pakistan on a long term basis," said a statement from the Prime Ministers Office.Sharif, during the meeting, said that there is keen desire on both sides to upgrade bilateral cooperation in trade, investment and economic matters, according to the office.

6.2-magnitude quake hits 40 km WSW of Pointe-Noire, Guadeloupe -- USGS

BEIJING, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.2 jolted 40 km WSW of Pointe-Noire, Guadeloupe at 1123 GMT on Friday, the U.S. Geological Survey said.The epicenter, with a depth of 166.372 km, was initially determined to be at 16.131 degrees north latitude and 62.1564 degrees west longitude.

Chinese Ambassador-designate Hou Yue arrives in Norway

File photoStockholm (People’s Daily) – China’s newly appointed ambassador to Norway Hou Yue delivered written remarks upon arrival at Oslo airport on Thursday.Hou expressed her great pleasure at coming to Norway, “the beautiful country of fjords,” to serve as the 20th Chinese ambassador.She also extended her sincere compliments and heartfelt gratitude “to all those friends who have been caring about and supporting the development of China-Norway relations” and warm greetings and best wishes to the Chinese communities, companies, students and scholars in Norway.“Since China and Norway established diplomatic relations 69 years ago, the continuously deepening and pragmatic bilateral cooperation has benefited both peoples and contributed to human progress,” Hou said. “Peace, development, fairness, justice, democracy and freedom are the common values of humanity.”China and Norway shared broad common ground and faced many common challenges, the ambassador said.“It is in the fundamental interests of the two countries and the expectations of the two peoples to promote mutual understanding through dialogue and communication, boost common development through win-win cooperation, and build a community with a shared future for mankind,” she said. “I believe that with the joint efforts of both sides, China-Norway relations will surely usher in a brighter future in the new era.”Hou said she looked forward to increasing communication and enhancing friendship with Norwegians from all walks of life while pushing for the continuous, sound and steady development of China-Norway relations.

US, China must understand each other 'more fully': Kissinger

The United States and China must understand each other "more fully" and cultivate a relationship more compatible with peace and progress in the world, former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has said.Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger addresses the annual New Year gala of the China General Chamber of Commerce - USA (CGCC-USA) held in New York, U.S., January 18, 2023. (Photo: CFP)That leaders from both countries met recently in Bali and stated an intention to reverse the worrisome trend in the bilateral ties is a good sign, said Kissinger in his video remarks to the annual New Year gala of the China General Chamber of Commerce - USA (CGCC-USA) held in New York on Wednesday evening.The seasoned diplomat said he welcomes "the decisions that have been made to foster dialogue in so many fields," adding, "China has made a number of practical steps in that direction.""Each nation needs to understand the other more fully," said the 99-year-old veteran diplomat and strategist, who served under two U.S. presidents, Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford."While working together, we can achieve great things, not just for our countries, but also for humanity," said Kissinger.He noted that "China and the United States have different perceptions of culture and of how to conduct themselves," and this "needs to be understood by both sides."Kissinger also underscored the importance of using "intellectual, political, and historic visions" to achieve the desired relationship, adding he has "every hope and expectation that this process will lead to the results that the people all over the world expect."Kissinger was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the CGCC-USA at Wednesdays event to recognize his achievements as a trailblazer and lifelong contributor to U.S.-China relations.

Brazilian police carry out raids related to Jan. 8 Brasilia storming

Brazils federal police on Friday carried out raids against people allegedly involved in the Jan. 8 storming of government buildings by supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro, a statement showed.Forensic investigators are framed by a cracked window damaged when supporters of Brazils former President Jair Bolsonaro stormed the Brazilian Supreme Court building, in Brasilia, in Brasilia, Brazil, January 10, 2023. (Photo: CFP)Police said the operation was aimed at "identifying people who participated in, funded or fostered" the riots, and included eight preventive arrest warrants and 16 search and seizure warrants in five states and in Brasilia.

Citi Research sees Malaysian economic growth to moderate to 4 pct in 2023

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- Citi Research analysts on Friday forecasted Malaysias economic growth to moderate to 4 percent in 2023 on base effects and external headwinds.The research house said in a statement that Chinas optimization of its COVID-19 strategy could provide a substantial cushion against headwinds from the European Union and U.S. recessions."We raised Malaysias 2022 gross domestic product forecast to 8.7 percent, substantially above the Ministry of Finance (MOF)s forecast of 6.5 percent to 7 percent, and see a moderation to 4 percent in 2023," said Citi head of ASEAN economics Kit Wei Zheng.Citi Research said that going into 2023, labor demand is expected to remain resilient with unemployment rates falling towards pre-pandemic levels, though a full implementation of the 25-percent minimum wage hike from the second half could add to wage pressures, with unit labor costs further lifted by the cyclical slowdown in productivity.On the Central Bank of Malaysia (BNM)s decision to maintain the overnight policy rate at 2.75 percent, Citi Research sees this as an intermittent pause, not just to allow for more time to assess the impact of earlier hikes, but changes to the balance of risks from policy adjustments in the budget, as well as Chinas optimization of its COVID-19 strategy."With core inflation still seen elevated (despite moderating) and risks to the upside, we expect at least another 25 basis points (bps) hike in March, and another 25 bps in May, with further hikes in the second half possible," it said.On the global front, Citi Research said it continues to see "rolling country-level recessions", with high inflation and tight monetary policy likely to plague the outlook as geopolitical challenges persist.According to Citi Research, the pace of global growth this year is likely to decline to just over 2 percent, nearly a percentage point weaker than last years near-trend performance.

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