01/25/2023, 09.23
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Jerusalem and holy sites in talks between King Abdullah and Netanyahu

Today's headlines: Pyongyang imposes a five-day lockdown for cases of unspecified 'respiratory illness'; Hanoi wants to open up the arms market to foreign companies; A cold wave hits north-east Asia halting transport halted and leaving one victim in Japan; Russia classifies the Andrei Sakharov foundation as an 'undesirable organisation'. 

Jordanian King Abdullah hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday for a rare meeting. The last one between the two leaders was in 2018. According to Amman, the talks centred on tensions at the al-Aqsa Mosque and the status quo of holy sites in Jerusalem. The Israeli counterpart speaks of confrontation around "regional issues" and bilateral relations. 

North Korean authorities have ordered a five-day lockdown in Pyongyang over an increase in cases related to unspecified "respiratory illness". The government note, relayed by Nk News, does not mention Covid-19 but warns citizens to stay at home until the evening of 29 January and to test their temperature several times a day. Citizens hoarded goods yesterday. 

India invited Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to a Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (SCO) meeting in May. This is a possible sign of detente between the two rival nuclear powers, in a phase of tension that also involves the disputed region of Kashmir. If Islamabad accepts, it will be the first visit at foreign minister level in 12 years. 

Hanoi wants to open up the arms market to foreign companies with a special law under parliamentary consideration, breaking the domestic monopoly on military-related production. Vietnamese officials and analysts consider the law essential to provide a legal framework with the aim of strengthening the defence sector. Planned expenditure by 2027 is more than EUR 8.5 billion. 

A cold wave hitting north-east Asia is causing record temperatures and paralysing the transport system. In Mohe, northern China, the thermometer dropped to unprecedented levels, registering -53 degrees, and the cold weather looks set to continue throughout the week. In Japan, snow has caused transport disruptions and already claimed one victim.

The Prosecutor General's Office of Russia has recognised the Andrei Sakharov Foundation as an 'undesirable organisation', its activity 'represents a threat to the foundations of constitutional order and security'. After 35 years, the social media wrote, "they have given Sakharov back the title of dissident". The removal of Solzenitsyn's 'Gulag Archipelago' from the school curriculum was also proposed.

Kabu has criticised Uzbekistan for cutting off electricity supplies to Afghanistan during the abnormal cold snap in the region that killed more than 120 people. Interim Foreign Minister Amir Han Muttaki travelled to Tashkent for an exhibition on agricultural production and urged the Uzbek authorities to honour contracts to "support each other".

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