World Newsletter

WORLD NEWS
23 March 2020

ABE: OLYMPICS COULD BE POSTPONED

 

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said postponing the Olympic Games

could become an option if it was not possible to hold it in its "complete

form".

He said the country might have "no option but to consider postponing the

games", but added that cancellation was not an option.

This is a dramatic shift from what he had said earlier last week. He had

then confidently announced that Japan would "overcome the spread of the

infection and host the Olympics without problem".

The Olympics are due to be held in the capital Tokyo this July.

 

 

IRAN LEADER REFUSES US HELP; CITES CORONAVIRUS CONSPIRACY THEORY

 

Iran's supreme leader refused American assistance to fight the new

coronavirus citing a conspiracy theory claiming it could be man-made by the

United States government.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's comments came on Sunday as Iran faces crushing US

sanctions blocking the country from selling its crude oil and accessing

international financial markets.

While Iranian officials in recent days have increasingly criticised those

sanctions, 80-year-old Khamenei instead echoed Chinese officials about the

possible origin of the coronavirus.

"I do not know how real this accusation is but when it exists, who in their

right mind would trust you to bring them medication?" Khamenei said.

"Possibly your medicine is a way to spread the virus more."

He also alleged the virus "is specifically built for Iran using the genetic

data of Iranians, which they have obtained through different means".

"You might send people as doctors and therapists, maybe they would want to

come here and see the effect of the poison they have produced in person,"

Khamenei said.

 

 

STRONG QUAKE SHAKES CROATIA, DAMAGING BUILDINGS IN CAPITAL

 

A strong earthquake shook Croatia and its capital on Sunday, causing panic,

the evacuation of hospitals and widespread damage - including to the city's

iconic cathedral - all amid a partial coronavirus lockdown.

The European seismological agency, EMSC, said the earthquake measured 5.3

and struck a wide area north of the capital, Zagreb, at 6.23 am. (0523 GMT)

Sunday. The epicenter was 7 km (4 miles) north of Zagreb at a depth of 10

kilometers (6 miles).

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said earthquake was the biggest in Zagreb in

the past 140 years.

 

 

N. KOREA SAYS TRUMP'S LETTER OFFERS ANTI-VIRUS COOPERATION

 

President Donald Trump sent a personal letter to North Korean leader Kim

Jong Un, seeking to maintain good relations and offering cooperation in

fighting the viral pandemic, Kim's sister said Sunday.

The latest correspondence came as Mr. Kim observed the firing of tactical

guided weapons over the weekend, drawing criticism from South Korea, as the

nuclear talks remain deadlocked.

In a statement carried by the Korean Central News Agency, Mr. Kim's sister

and senior ruling party official, Ms. Kim Yo Jong, praised Mr. Trump for

sending the letter at a time when "big difficulties and challenges lie ahead

in the way of developing ties" between the countries.

In the letter, she said Mr. Trump explained his plan to "propel the

relations between the two countries ... and expressed his intent to render

cooperation in the anti-epidemic work" in an apparent reference to the

global coronavirus outbreak. She said her brother expressed his gratitude

for Trump's letter.

North Korea has repeatedly said there hasn't been a single case of the

coronavirus on its soil. Some foreign experts question that claim and say an

outbreak in the North could cause a humanitarian disaster because of its

poor medical infrastructure. Last month, the State Department expressed

concerns about North Korea's vulnerability to a potential coronavirus

outbreak and said it was ready to support efforts by aid organizations to

contain the spread of the illness in the North.

There was no immediate comment from the White House.

 

 

MALAYSIA WORSHIPPERS GETTING SCREENED, EVENT ORGANISER SAYS AFTER

CORONAVIRUS CASES SPIKE

 

Worshippers who attended a mass religious event in Malaysia that is now

linked to 840 coronavirus cases across Southeast Asia are cooperating with

authorities, an organiser said, after the government said thousands of them

were still being traced.

The four-day Islamic gathering held at a mosque near the Malaysian capital

Kuala Lumpur is connected to 60% of all the 1,183 cases in the country - the

highest number of infections in Southeast Asia, which has a total of more

than 3,000 cases.

Malaysia has also recorded eight deaths.

The government said on Thursday that it had yet to trace 4,000 of the 14,500

Malaysian residents who attended. The health ministry said on Saturday it

expected the number of cases to spike next week as it tried to track down

unscreened participants of the Feb. 27-March 1 religious event.

"After hearing reports of thousands or participants yet to be screened, many

had returned to their district health departments or hospitals repeatedly

until their names and details were recorded," Abdullah Cheong, a leader of

the event's organising team, said in a statement on Saturday.

"We are prepared and have given our full commitment to help the authorities

deal with the pandemic."

He also said 12,500 people attended the gathering, including foreigners and

200 Rohingya refugees. Previous reports have put the number at 16,000.

The government has also said that it would deploy the army on Sunday to help

the police enforce a two-week curb on travel and movements that began on

Wednesday.

 

 

IRAN, FRANCE CARRY OUT PRISONER SWAP

 

Iranian authorities have released French academic Roland Marchal, who has

been imprisoned in Iran since June 2019, a French presidency official said

on Saturday.

Mr. Marchal is due to arrive in France around midday on Saturday, the

official said.

French President Emmanuel Macron urged Iran to also release French citizen

Fariba Adelkhah, who is still imprisoned, the official added.

Iran and France have agreed to swap Mr. Marchal, held on security charges,

and an Iranian detained by Paris over alleged violations of U.S. sanctions

against Tehran, Iranian state media reported on Friday. France has released

Jalal Ruhollahnejad, an Iranian engineer wanted by U.S. authorities over

sanctions charges, state broadcaster IRIB has reported.

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