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World in brief - January 18, 2021

ITALY: Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said today that his government could “hold its head high” in the knowledge it had done all it could to tackle the Covid crisis.

Mr Conte was addressing the lower house of parliament ahead of a confidence vote.

He faces a further vote in the Senate tomorrow, following the withdrawal of ex-premier Matteo Renzi and his small Italia Viva party from the ruling coalition.

The PM attacked Mr Renzi for collapsing the coalition as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to rage.

JAPAN: Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi accused South Korea today of “violating international law” by demanding compensation for 12 South Korean women who were sexually abused in Japanese military brothels during World War II.

The Seoul Central District Court ruled on January 8 that Japan must pay each of the women 100 million won (£67,000) in damages.

The issue of wartime compensation has sparked a trade war between the two US allies.

CHINA: Twelve miners trapped underground for a week are still alive, having managed to get a note to the surface calling on rescue workers not to give up. The fate of another 10 remains unknown. 

The miners were trapped by an explosion as a mine was under construction in Qixia, Shandong province.

Over 300 rescue workers are trying to reach them.

Mine managers are under arrest after they failed to promptly report the accident.

HOLY SEE: The Vatican has dropped an extradition request for an Italian woman wanted on embezzlement charges for fear of an embarrassing rebuff.

Cecilia Marogna is accused of using €575,000 (£510,000) she was paid to help liberate Catholic hostages to buy herself luxury goods. The case forms part of a much bigger sleaze probe.

Her lawyers say Italy cannot extradite people to the Vatican, since its legal system is archaic and subject to arbitrary interference from the Pope, who reigns as an absolute monarch with exclusive legislative, executive and judicial power.

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