Digest for international stories for week May 22 - May 28, 2021

·5-min read

Saturday Gaza City: Hundreds of masked Hamas fighters brandishing assault rifles paraded in Gaza City and the group's top leader made his first public appearance on Saturday, in a defiant show of strength after the militants' 11-day war with Israel.

Kathmandu: Nepal's President dissolved the House of Representatives on Saturday for the second time in five months and announced snap elections in November, rejecting both embattled Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli and the Opposition alliance's claims to form a government, a 'regressive' move that will be legally challenged yet again.

Washington: The International Monetary Fund has proposed a USD 50 billion global vaccination plan that would cover at least 40 per cent of the global population by the end of 2021 and at least 60 per cent by the first half of 2022.

Sunday Tehran: Iran's hard-line parliament speaker said on Sunday a temporary deal between Tehran and international inspectors to preserve surveillance images taken at nuclear sites had ended, escalating tensions amid diplomatic efforts to save the Islamic Republic's atomic accord with world powers.

Beijing: Twenty-one ultra-marathon runners were killed and eight other injured in northwest China after high winds and freezing rain suddenly struck the participants of a 100-km cross-country mountain race at the weekend, rescue officials said on Sunday.

London: A new study by health officials in England shows for the first time that two doses of COVID-19 vaccines are “highly effective” against the B1.617.2 variant first identified in India.

Monday Washington: US President Joe Biden on Monday asked his top diplomat Antony Blinken to travel to the Middle East to meet Israeli and Palestinian leaders, among other regional leaders, and advance the peace process, amid a ceasefire between the two sides.

Beijing/Washington: Three researchers from the Wuhan Institute of Virology sought hospital care in November 2019, weeks before Beijing disclosed the COVID-19 pandemic, a US media report said, citing a previously undisclosed American intelligence document that could add weight to growing calls for a full scale probe of whether the coronavirus may have escaped from China’s top bio lab.

Jerusalem: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Monday the appointment of David Barnea as the new head of the country's spy agency, the Mossad.

Tuesday United Nations: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Tuesday held a comprehensive in-person meeting with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and discussed the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and underlined the importance of finding an 'urgent and effective' global vaccine solution to fight the deadly disease.

Jerusalem: Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Tuesday that the US would reopen its Consulate General in Jerusalem — a move that restores ties with Palestinians that had been downgraded by the Trump administration.

London: The UK government said on Tuesday that it has kicked off preparations for a free trade agreement (FTA) with India, launching a 14-week consultation to seek the views of the public and business before formal negotiations begin later this year.

Wednesday Brussels: The European Union took on vaccine producer AstraZeneca in a Brussels court on Wednesday and accused the drugmaker of acting in bad faith by providing shots to other nations when it had promised them for fast delivery to the EU's 27 member countries.

Kathmandu: Nepal President Bidya Devi Bhandari on Wednesday appealed to her Indian and Chinese counterparts to help her country in getting uninterrupted supply of COVID-19 vaccines as it faces a huge shortage of the coronavirus shots, according to media reports.

London: Vijay Mallya on Wednesday lost an appeal to gain further access to court-held funds to cover his costs for legal proceedings in India, as a High Court judge in London concluded that the 65-year-old businessman had failed to provide sufficient evidence in support of the over 750,000 pounds being sought.

Thursday London: Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday rejected claims by his former chief aide that he botched Britain's coronavirus response and is unfit for office, denying an allegation his government oversaw tens of thousands of needless deaths.

Aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth: NATO has helped provide security in Afghanistan for almost two decades but the government and armed forces in the conflict-torn country are strong enough to stand on their own feet without international troops to back them, the head of the military organisation said Thursday.

Washington: The US economy grew at a robust annual rate of 6.4% in the first three months of this year, unchanged from the government's initial estimate. The recovery from last year's deep recession gained steam at the beginning of this year, helped by vaccines to combat the virus and trillions of dollars in government assistance.

Friday Kathmandu: Beleaguered Nepal Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli on Friday urged all political parties to form an all-party government and hold fresh elections, as he tried to justify the controversial dissolution of the House of Representatives twice by the President, saying a 'functionless' Parliament turned out to be the main source of instability in the country.

United Nations: The “terrible' surge of the coronavirus cases in India has severely impacted COVAX’s vaccine supply in the second quarter of this year to the extent that there will be a shortfall of 190 million doses by the end of June, according to a joint statement by the WHO, UNICEF, GAVI and CEPI.

London: UK's roadmap to lifting all coronavirus restrictions appeared to be balanced on a knife-edge, with authorities and scientists urging caution amid the rapid spread of the B.1.617 COVID-19 variant first identified in India, which the health secretary says is estimated to be behind up to three-quarters of new infections in the country. PTI MAH MAH