Reuters World News Summary

Following is a summary of current world news briefs.

Australia starts probe into bushfire air tanker crash that killed three Americans

Investigations are underway into the crash of a C-130 Hercules air tanker that was fighting bushfires in Australia's alpine region, a state fire official said on Friday, with the state in mourning for three men killed in the accident a day earlier. The premier of the state of New South Wales (NSW) ordered flags to be flown at half-staff on Friday as a mark of respect for the three victims, whose names have yet to be released.

U.S. calls on Haiti to set a date for elections: Pompeo

Haiti should set a date for elections, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday, more than a week after Haiti's president began ruling by decree. Pompeo did not specify which elections he was referring to, but Haiti failed to hold scheduled legislative elections last year.

Trump to unveil long-stalled Middle East peace plan ahead of Israeli leaders' visit

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday he will release details of his long-delayed peace plan for the Middle East before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his election rival Benny Gantz visit the White House next week. The political aspects of the peace initiative have been closely guarded. Only the economic proposals have been unveiled.

U.N. says officials barred from using WhatsApp since June 2019 over security

United Nations officials do not use WhatsApp to communicate because "it's not supported as a secure mechanism," a U.N. spokesman said on Thursday, after U.N. experts accused Saudi Arabia of using the online communications platform to hack the phone of Amazon chief executive and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos. The independent U.N. experts said on Wednesday they had information pointing to the "possible involvement" of Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the alleged 2018 cyberattack on the billionaire Inc chief.

Venezuelan opposition party seeks U.S. blessing to 'repeat' 2018 election: document

Venezuelan opposition politician Henri Falcon's party is seeking the United States' blessing for a deal with President Nicolas Maduro to overturn and repeat a 2018 vote in which Maduro trounced Falcon, the party's lobbying firm said in a filing. Canadian lobbying firm Dickens & Madson in its bi-yearly report to the U.S. Department of Justice said it was in "regular, ongoing communications with U.S. intelligence and the executive branch" to ensure Washington would not oppose the plan as long as Maduro relinquishes his claim to the presidency.

Tea rooms and double-decker buses: Prince Harry may find home in Canada's royal city

Prince Harry and wife Meghan have settled, for now, into a seaside home near the most royal of Canadian cities - Victoria, British Columbia (B.C.)- named after a queen who reigned until 1901, during a great expansion of the British Empire. In the summer, tourists pile onto red double-decker buses like the ones that criss-cross London. Every afternoon, hundreds flock to tea at the magnificent Fairmont Empress Hotel, or one of the city's many other tea rooms that fly the British flag.

U.S. imposes fresh Iran-related sanctions on two people, six companies

The United States on Thursday said it blacklisted two companies based in Hong Kong, one in Shanghai and one in Dubai for helping Iran's state-owned National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) export millions of dollars of goods in violation of U.S. sanctions. The U.S. Treasury Department said it imposed sanctions on the Hong Kong-based Triliance Petrochemical Co. Ltd and Sage Energy HK Limited, China-based Peakview Industry Co Ltd and United Arab Emirates-based Beneathco DMCC.

World Court orders Myanmar to protect Rohingya from acts of genocide

The International Court of Justice on Thursday ordered Myanmar to take urgent measures to protect its Rohingya population from genocide, a ruling cheered by refugees as their first major legal victory since being forced from their homes. A lawsuit launched by Gambia in November at the United Nations' highest body for disputes between states accuses Myanmar of genocide against Rohingya in violation of a 1948 convention.

Mexican security forces corral migrants after hundreds enter from Guatemala

Dozens of Mexican security forces corralled a caravan of Central Americans who entered from Guatemala on Thursday, testing Mexico's resolve to contain mass movements of people under pressure from the Trump administration. Armed with riot shields, a wall of National Guards blocked the path of the migrants and began moving them onto buses after hundreds had earlier in the day swept into Mexico across the Suchiate River that divides the country from Guatemala.

'This is an emergency in China' says WHO, as virus death toll rises to 18

The World Health Organization (WHO) called a new coronavirus that has killed 18 people in China and infected around 650 globally "an emergency in China" on Thursday, but stopped short of declaring the epidemic of international concern. Chinese state television said 634 cases had been confirmed so far. China's National Health Commission said there had been 17 deaths as a result of the virus in Hubei, the province at the center of the outbreak, and health authorities confirmed the first Chinese death outside Hubei.