International news brief: Sri Lanka in bailout discussions with the IMF
| Updated: Friday, July 29, 2022, 23:24 [IST]
Colombo, July 29: Sri Lanka said bailout discussions with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had resumed Friday after the World Bank said it would not be able to offer the country fresh funding without "deep structural reforms."
The island nation of Sri Lanka is bankrupt, and its economy is in a death spiral. Fresh figures released on Friday showed year-on-year inflation in July hitting a record 60.8%.
The news comes as China plans on sending a military ship to the port of Hambantota, a Chinese built and leased port in southern Sri Lanka. India is concerned China is using the port as a military base in its backyard.
India has provided Sri Lanka with $4 billion in aid funding this year, while China is a major Sri Lankan creditor.
Zelenskyy observes ships loaded with Ukrainian grain exports
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited one of Ukraine's main Black Sea ports on Friday, a week after a deal was struck with Russia, Turkey and the United Nations to create safe corridors for ships to export grains that have been trapped in the country since the war began five months ago.
His visit to a port in the Odesa region comes as workers were seen preparing terminals for grain exports, which are relied on by millions of impoverished people worldwide facing hunger.
Kremlin warns US against 'provocative' moves toward China
The Kremlin on Friday offered strong support to China amid the tensions over Taiwan, warning the United States against any "provocative" moves that could exacerbate the situation. Chinese President Xi Jinping warned against meddling in China's dealings with Taiwan during a phone call Thursday with U.S. President Joe Biden, Speaking in a call with reporters, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Russia staunchly supports China's sovereignty and territorial integrity. "We believe that no other country has the right to call (that) into doubt or take any provocative steps," Peskov said. He warned the U.S. against "destructive" moves, adding that "such behavior on the international arena could only exacerbate tensions as the world is already overloaded with regional and global problems."
Army chief Bajwa urges US to expedite early release of IMF loan to Pakistan
Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa has reached out to the US for the early disbursal of the nearly USD 1.2 billion loan from the IMF, the official media reported on Friday, as the cash-strapped country faces the ignominy of a possible debt default due to its depleting foreign exchange reserves. Bajwa spoke over phone with the US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman earlier this week and also appealed to the White House and the US Treasury Department to push the IMF to immediately expedite the nearly USD 1.2 billion loan, state-run news agency Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) reported, quoting sources in the Pakistan Army.
US reaches deal with Moderna for omicron COVID-19 vaccine
The Biden administration said Friday it has reached an agreement with Moderna to buy 66 million doses of the company's next generation of COVID-19 vaccine that targets the highly transmissible omicron variant, enough supply this winter for all who want the upgraded booster. The order of the bivalent shot follows the announcement last month that the federal government had secured 105 million doses of a similar vaccine from rival drugmaker Pfizer. Both orders are scheduled for delivery in the fall and winter, assuming regulators sign off on their effectiveness.
Blinken says he spoke to Russia FM about detained Americans
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he spoke to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov by phone on Friday and urged Moscow to accept a U.S. offer to release WNBA star Brittney Griner and another American detainee, Paul Whelan
It was Blinken's first talk with his Russian counterpart since before Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February.