World Briefs: Huntsman is Trump's pick for Russia envoy

Huntsman is Trump's pick for Russia envoy

WASHINGTON • Former Utah governor Jon Huntsman has accepted President Donald Trump's offer to be US ambassador to Russia, an administration official said.

A moderate Republican, Mr Huntsman served as ambassador to Singapore from 1992 to 1993, and to China from 2009 to 2011.

The new post requires Senate confirmation. It would put Mr Huntsman, 56, in Moscow at a time when US-Russian ties have sunk to a post-Cold War low. Investigations are ongoing into Russian meddling in the US presidential race last year.


ISIS leader al-Baghdadi has fled Mosul: US official

WASHINGTON • ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has fled Mosul and has apparently delegated tactical control of the battle for the city to local commanders.

A US defence official said the elusive leader, who appeared in public in Mosul in July 2014 to proclaim a "caliphate", fled the former Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) bastion some time before Iraqi security forces surrounded the city during an offensive to retake it.

Baghdadi is not believed to be exercising any kind of tactical influence on how the Mosul fight will play out, the official said.

The hunt for him is being led by various groups including US special operations forces.


Mosque Bills clear initial step in Israel's Parliament

JERUSALEM • Israel's Parliament has given preliminary approval to two controversial measures that would limit calls to prayers from mosques, including one prohibiting the use of loudspeakers at all hours.

The Bills - the second of which would ban loudspeakers in urban areas between 11pm and 7am - will eventually have to be reconciled, with three more readings required before they can become law.

They were approved after a heated discussion that turned into shouting matches between ruling coalition members and Arab lawmakers.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 10, 2017, with the headline 'World Briefs'. Print Edition | Subscribe