Here is a summary of current world news.

Ukraine hopes for grain export breakthrough as Istanbul talks resume

Ukraine said on Wednesday that an agreement to resume grain exports blocked by Russia appeared very close as the four-party talks were set to resume, raising hopes for an end to a stalemate that has exposed millions to the risk of starvation. More than 20 million tonnes of Ukrainian grain are stuck in silos at the Black Sea port of Odessa and dozens of ships are blocked due to the Russian blockade, in what Moscow calls its “special military operation”. in Ukraine, but what Kyiv and the West say is a war of unwarranted aggression.

Sri Lankan president flees to Maldives, protesters storm PM’s office

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled to the Maldives on Wednesday, seemingly ending his family’s nearly two-decade rule of the country after a massive popular uprising sparked by an economic collapse. But his decision to leave his ally Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in charge as caretaker president has sparked further protests, with protesters storming the prime minister’s office demanding he leave as well.

US calls for immediate halt to Russian deportations to Ukraine

The United States has called on Russia to immediately release Ukrainians it has driven from their home country and allow outside observers, citing reports that Moscow was putting Ukrainian children up for adoption and “disappearing” thousands of children. ‘others. “The unlawful transfer and deportation of protected persons constitutes a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention on the Protection of Civilians and constitutes a war crime,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday.

Belarus jails journalist for eight years for treason

A Belarusian court on Wednesday sentenced a journalist to eight years in prison for treason, handing her a new prison term on top of the one she was already serving on protest charges, human rights group Vesna-96 said. . Katsiaryna Andreyeva, 28, a journalist for Polish TV channel Belsat TV, was arrested while covering mass protests in Minsk in 2020 and sentenced to two years in prison for organizing mass unrest, a accusation which she denied.

Biden lands in Israel at start of high-stakes Middle East visit

US President Joe Biden arrived in Israel on Wednesday, kicking off a high-stakes trip to the Middle East dominated by efforts to persuade Gulf allies to pump more oil and bring Israel and the US closer together. ‘Saudi Arabia. Biden will spend two days in Jerusalem for talks with Israeli leaders before meeting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the occupied West Bank on Friday.

Eight hopefuls wanting to be Britain’s next PM face first vote to narrow field

Tory lawmakers will vote on Wednesday to narrow the field of eight candidates hoping to succeed Boris Johnson as party leader and prime minister, in an increasingly turbulent contest marked by trade hopes. Three of the 11 initial challengers for the post of prime minister fell on Tuesday after failing to garner enough support from their colleagues, but the competition remains crowded.

The Italian government risks collapse if 5 stars withdraws

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s broad-coalition government was in danger of collapsing if the Five Star Movement followed through on its withdrawal threat, raising the prospect of a snap election. Five-star figures, led by former Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, met on Wednesday to decide whether to stay in the coalition, after issuing a series of political demands ahead of a vote of confidence on Thursday.

Kremlin hopes Biden won’t seek to turn Saudi Arabia against Russia

The Kremlin said on Wednesday it hoped President Joe Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia would not be used to try to foster anti-Russian relations, just as the United States seeks to convince Riyadh to increase oil production. in a context of soaring prices. White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Monday that Biden would advocate for more oil production from OPEC nations to lower gasoline prices when he meets with officials. Gulf leaders in Saudi Arabia this week.

Hong Kong veteran activist jailed for unlawful assembly

A Hong Kong court on Wednesday sentenced a 66-year-old activist known as ‘Grandma Wong’ to eight months in prison, the second incarceration of a Hong Kong democracy campaign veteran in as many years. days. Alexandra Wong Fung-yiu had been charged with two counts of unlawful assembly from 2019, when millions of people took part in months of protracted pro-democracy protests against a perceived tightening of the Chinese Communist Party’s control over the town.

China says it ‘chased’ US destroyer that sailed near disputed islands

A US destroyer sailed near the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea on Wednesday, prompting an angry response from Beijing, which said its military had “chased” the ship after it illegally entered territorial waters. The United States regularly conducts what it calls freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea, challenging what it says are restrictions on innocent passage imposed by China and other claimants.

(With agency contributions.)