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EU foreign ministers meet amid tensions over 6th sanctions package

The meeting of EU foreign affairs ministers started on Monday amid tensions over the proposal of an oil embargo as part of the bloc’s sixth sanctions package against Russia. “Unfortunately, the whole (European) Union is held hostage by one country which cannot help us to find consensus," Lithuania's top diplomat Gabrelius Landsbergis told…

Sweden to apply for NATO membership, says PM

STOCKHOLM - Sweden will apply for membership in NATO as a deterrent against Russian aggression, Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said Monday, reversing two centuries of military non-alignment. “The government has decided to inform NATO that Sweden wants to become a member of the alliance,” Andersson told reporters a day after neighbouring…

Thousands suffer as sandstorm hits Iraq

Thousands needed medical attention in Iraq due to a sandstorm, the Health Ministry said on Monday. A ministry statement said nearly 4,000 people suffered respiratory problems due to the storm that struck several Iraqi provinces. The storm has also forced the suspension of flights at airports in the capital Baghdad, Najaf and Sulaymaniyah in…

Cash-strapped Sri Lanka out of petrol, says PM

COLOMBO - Crisis-hit Sri Lanka has run out of petrol and is unable to find dollars to finance essential imports, the new prime minister said Monday in an address to the nation. “We have run out of petrol... At the moment, we only have petrol stocks for a single day,” Ranil Wickremesinghe said, warning his bankrupt country could face more…

UK PM heads to Belfast amid deepening EU row

BELFAST - UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson steps into an increasingly bitter row on Monday when he visits Northern Ireland to urge the formation of a power-sharing executive, which is currently being blocked by a Brexit dispute. In a historic development, the role of Northern Ireland’s first minister is set to be taken by the pro-Irish party Sinn…

Ukraine prepares for new Russian Donbas push

KYIV - Ukraine was preparing Monday for a new Russian push in the eastern Donbas region, as Kyiv said its army’s counterattack around Kharkiv had gained momentum. Since failing to take the capital at the beginning of the invasion in late February, control of Donbas has become one of Moscow’s primary objectives -- but Western intelligence has…

Iran’s foreign minister makes rare visit to UAE to pay respects

Iran's top diplomat has travelled to the United Arab Emirates (UAE)on Monday to pay his respects after the death of President Khalifa bin Zayed, Iranian state media reported, while Tehran welcomed the appointment of the Gulf state s new ruler. The trip by Hossein Amirabdollahian is the highest level visit by an Iranian official to the Gulf…

Somali parliament elects Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as president

Somali lawmakers from both houses of parliament who gathered in a hangar inside heavily fortified Mogadishu International Airport elected Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as president Sunday, defeating incumbent President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, also known as Farmajo. Mohamud, who was Mohamed’s immediate predecessor as president, won 214 out of 327…

Oil prices drop on profit-taking, supply fears linger

Oil prices slipped on Monday, giving up earlier gains as investors took profits after a surge in the previous session, but global supply fears loomed with the European Union preparing to phase in a ban on imports from Russia. Brent crude futures were down 64 cents, or 0.6%, at $110.91 a barrel at 0137 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate…

Asia stocks struggle after dire China data

Asian share markets were struggling to sustain even a minor rally on Monday after shockingly weak data from China underlined the deep damage lockdowns were doing to the world’s second-largest economy. China’s April retail sales plunged 11.1% on the year, almost twice the drop forecast, while industrial output dropped 2.9% when analysts had…

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