60m Iranians to elect new president
Press TV reports that polls have opened in Iran for the election of a new president to replace the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as he is not eligible to contest another term. Khamenei was the first to cast his vote, thus giving the official blessing to the polls opening. Voting continues till midnight (9.30 pm Malta time) and the results are expected on Saturday afternoon. Three candidates remain in the running, all men, after the withdrawal by the Guardian Council, out of the almost 600 initial aspirants.
Biden wants to meet China’s Xi
After the summit with President Putin, US President Joe Biden now wants to speak with Chinese President Xi Jinping “to take stock of the situation” because “nothing replaces dialogue at the level of management”. Speaking to reporters, national security adviser Jake Sullivan hinted that a face-to-face is possible at the G20 summit, scheduled for October in Italy.
China welcomes US-Russia dialogue
China has welcomed the consensus reached by the US and Russia on the continuation of dialogue for strategic stability. The two largest countries in possession of nuclear weapons “have a higher responsibility in atomic disarmament”, commented Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian on Wednesday’s summit between Presidents Biden and Putin.
Biden is a professional, says Putin
Speaking to RIA Novosti after the Geneva summit, President Putin said “President Joe Biden is a professional, we will have to work with him very carefully, nothing should be left to chance.” He said “nothing escapes him” and augured Biden will be given the opportunity to work calmly”.
Pope calls for world ‘decent and dignified working conditions’
Avvenire says Pope Francis has called for an end to “past fixations on profit, isolation and nationalism, and blind consumerism” and for the world to have “a new future of work, founded on decent and dignified working conditions. In a video message on the occasion of the ILO Conference, the Pontiff recalled that in 2020 there was “an unprecedented loss of jobs” and expressed the hope that particular attention be given to women, unprotected workers and migrants”.
Global COVID-19 death toll exceeds 4 million
Coronavirus-related deaths worldwide passed a grim milestone of four million on Thursday, according to a Reuters tally. It took more than a year for the COVID-19 death toll to hit two million, while the next two million were recorded in just 166 days. The top five countries by total number of deaths – the United States, Brazil, India, Russia and Mexico – represent about 50% of all deaths in the world, while Peru, Hungary, Bosnia, the Czech Republic and Gibraltar have the highest death rates per population.
Dramatic case increase of Delta variant in the UK
The Guardian reports there have been 11,007 COVID-19 cases in the UK in the last 24 hours from the Delta variant, imported from India – a record daily peak since mid-February. However, the increase in deaths, 19 compared to nine on Wednesday, and hospital admissions, the total of which is now 1,227, remained more contained – thanks to the effect of vaccines.
EURO2020: England v. Scotland tops today’s bill
England’s showdown with Scotland at 9 pm is perhaps the highlight of a big day of UEFA EURO 2020 action that could see The Three Lions, Czech Republic and Slovakia book a place in the knockout stages. Sweden face Slovakia (3 pm) and Croatia play the Czech Republic (6pm) before the Wembley fixture. Yesterday, the Netherlands’ 2-0 win over Austria confirmed the Oranje as Group C winners after two games.
Substitute Kevin De Bruyne provided an assist and then the winning goal as Belgium turned a 1-0 deficit against Denmark into a 2-1 Group B win, and also booked their place in the round of 16. Andriy Yarmolenko stole the spotlight in the match against North Macedonia (2-1) to keep Ukraine’s last-16 hopes alive, while North Macedonia’s fate hangs in the balance in Group C.
Copa America results: Columbia v. Venezuela 0-0; and Brazil beat Peru 4-0. Chile play Bolivia at 11pm.