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The Malaysian Cabinet has decided to halt the recruitment of new foreign workers into the country.

Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said this also meant that the initial plan to bring in 1.5 million Bangladeshi workers has been officially scrapped, The Star reported.

He said: "Employers who need workers will have to apply to legalise existing foreigners in the country without work permits or whose permits have expired."

Mr Ahmad Zahid said employers have until June 30 to legalise such foreign workers. The Immigration Department will push for employers to be caned if they are found guilty of harbouring and employing illegals.

A North Korean submarine is missing, reports said. The news comes as the country issued a fresh threat of retaliation against the US and South Korean forces involved in joint military drills.

The unknown class of vessel had been reportedly operating off the North Korean coast earlier in the week when it disappeared.

South Korean defence ministry said Seoul was investigating the reports. The US military had been observing the submarine off the North's eastern coast, CNN said.

American spy satellites, aircraft and ships have been watching as the North Korean navy searched for the missing sub, the report added.

- AFP.

A three-year-old Iraqi girl wounded in a chemical attack by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) died in hospital on Friday, medical sources and officials said.

"She died of respiratory complications and kidney failure... caused by the mustard agent used by ISIS in Taza," said Mr Masrour Aswad, of the Iraqi Commission for Human Rights.

Fatima Samir was among dozens of people hospitalised after a chemical attack on Wednesday on Taza, a town just south of the city of Kirkuk.

Mr Burhan Abdallah, the head of Kirkuk health directorate, said four people in serious condition were transferred to Baghdad.

- AFP.

Ratings agency Moody's downgraded its outlook for Hong Kong yesterday, citing increasing political riskiness and closer economic ties with China, which is facing a slowdown.

Moody's changed Hong Kong's outlook from "stable" to "negative" as it continues to reel from political unease following mass pro-democracy protests in 2014.

The city saw violent street clashes between police and protesters last month. The fate of five Hong Kong booksellers ­- who went missing and later turned up on the mainland, with four now under criminal investigation - is still in question.

"Increasing political linkages are likely to weigh on Hong Kong's institutional strength," Moody's Investors Service said in a statement.

- AFP.