China and Germany signed a series of trade and investment deals on Monday during a visit by Chancellor Angela Merkel, including agreements on two new Volkswagen factories and the sale of 123 Airbus helicopters. The two countries are both exporting giants -- with Germany the EU's biggest economy and China the world's second-largest -- and Merkel was looking to strengthen their economic relationship on her three-day visit, her seventh since coming into power in 2005. She was accompanied by executives from Siemens, Airbus, Lufthansa and Deutsche Bank among other companies, according to German media. Merkel and Premier Li Keqiang oversaw the signing of a series of agreements on Monday.
Russia's economy minister said Monday that output expanded by 1.2 percent in the second quarter compared to the same period last year, a preliminary figure that is "slightly better" than expected despite the Ukraine crisis. "The results are slightly better than we predicted, with the emphasis on 'slightly'," economy minister Alexei Ulyukayev said. He added that the "refined" official figure by Russia's statistics agency will be released later. The IMF said last month that Russia is already in recession, while the central bank said growth in 2014 is likely to slow to just 0.4 percent.
Iraqi forces struggled to regain ground lost last month to jihadist-led militants and politicians remained divided Monday despite mounting pressure to unite and agree on a new leadership. Nearly a month after militants led by the group now calling itself the Islamic State (IS) swept through northern Iraq, plunging the country into one of its worst crises in years, the prospect of either a military or a political solution still looked distant. Iraqi forces have regrouped after the debacle that saw some soldiers abandon their positions, weapons and uniforms as militants conquered Iraq's second city of Mosul and advanced to within about 80 kilometres (50 miles) of the capital Baghdad. The government has received fighter jets from Russia and Iran, intelligence from Washington and enlisted the help of Shiite militias it once shunned or fought to strike back at the loose alliance of IS fighters, other jihadist groups and former Saddam Hussein loyalists who now control swathes of territory.
Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi warned the independence of Iraq's Kurdish region would be "catastrophic" and cause the Middle East to splinter along ethnic and religious lines, newspapers reported Monday. A Sunni militant offensive that drove soldiers out of northern Iraq last month has emboldened leaders of the country's three-province Kurdish region to push for an independence referendum. "The referendum currently demanded by Kurds is nothing... but the catastrophic beginning of the division of Iraq into small rival states, starting with a Kurdish state that will grow to include lands in Syria on which Kurds are living," Sisi told Egyptian newspapers.