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BBC News with Jerry Smit.
President Obama and President Raul Castro have announced that the United States and Cuba would start talks in the next few months aimed of restoring diplomatic relations. Jon Sopel reports from Washington. “For over half a century since the world came to the brink of nuclear war over the siting of Russian cruise missiles on the small Caribbean island, relations with the U.S. have been in the deep freeze.
But now Cuba's prior status looks set to change, following this announcement from Barack Obama. “We will end an outdated approach that for decades has failed to advance our interests, and instead, we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries.” It's hard to exaggerate the importance of the announcement from the President. Every year, sanctions had been renewed on the grounds that Cuba, in America's eyes, was a state sponsor of terrorism. Trade bans were in place. Diplomatic relations were broken off, travel severely restricted. But now, that is all set to change.”
President Castro has urged the U.S. to end a five decades old economic embargo, saying it's done huge damage to Cuba. The embargo could only be lifted with the approval of Congress, which is controlled by the Republicans. They have traditionally opposed any such a move. President Obama said isolation had clearly failed and it did not serve anyone's interest to continue to push Cuba towards collapse. But the House Speaker John Boehner said relations should not be normalized until Cubans enjoyed freedom.
Shortly before the statements by the two presidents, an American government contractor detained by the Cuban authorities five years ago, Alan Gross, landed in the U.S. Mr. Gross, who is in poor health, had been sentenced for importing banned satellite technology to Cuba. He welcomed the beginning of the new era in relations between the two countries. “To me, Cubans, or at least most of them, are incredibly kind, generous and talented. It pains me to see them treated so unjustly as a consequence of two governments' mutually belligerent policies. Five and a half decades of history shows us that such belligerence inhibits better judgment. Two wrongs never make a right.”
Havana has also frees an unnamed American intelligence officer who'd been in jail in Cuba for nearly twenty years. In exchange, Washington has released three high profile Cuban prisoners, part of the group known as the Cuban Five, who were serving lengthy sentences for espionage.
Schools, businesses and markets across northwest Pakistan have been closed in mourning for the more than 140 victims of the Taliban massacre in Peshawar. The Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif promised to rid his country of terrorism following the killings.
You are listening to world news coming to you from the BBC.
There are reports from Syria that more than 230 bodies have been found in a mass grave in the eastern province of Deir al-Zour. A British-based monitoring group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, believes that the dead were members of the same tribe and that they were killed by militants loyal to the Islamic State group. Alan Johnston reports. “The monitoring group says all the dead in this mass grave were from the tribe called the Ali Sheitat. Its members have stood up to the Islamic State after it seized their area. But IS crushed its display of resistance with great brutality. Back in August, there were reports of many killings and the severed heads of tribe’s men had been left in public view on the streets. The monitoring group believes that the discovery of this mass grave brings the tribe's losses to more than 900.”
The U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says he is leaving today for West Africa to visit the countries affected by the Ebola outbreak. He will travel to Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Mali.
Pope Francis has received an unusual gift on his 78th birthday, the sight of crowds of people dancing the tango in St. Peter's Square in Rome. More from David Willey. “The loudspeakers, which normally broadcast hymns and prayers, spilled out his favorite tango tunes. Hundreds of couples weaved their way across the cobble stones to the slinky rhythms of the sensual Argentinian dance. It's our birthday present to the Pope, said one woman. When he was a teenager, Pope Francis used to love to dance the tango, his assistant told one of his biographers. The future Pope even worked briefly as a dancer of a nightclub.” And that's the BBC News.
aim of 旨在；瞄准；致力于…
the brink of ...的边缘
cruise missiles [航][军] 巡航导弹；巡航导弹概论
contractor n. 承包人；立契约者
detain vt. 拘留；留住；耽搁
in poor health 身体不好；虚弱
be sentenced for 被判为
belligerent adj. 交战的；好战的；交战国的
be in jail 服刑，坐牢
high profile 鲜明的姿态；引人注目的高姿态；明确的立场
espionage n. 间谍；间谍活动；刺探
rid of 除去，摆脱
monitoring group 观察组织
mass grave 乱葬冈；集体埋葬的墓地
brutality n. 无情；残忍；暴行（需用复数形式）
leave for 动身去；把…留给(某人)做；把…留在(另一时间做)
cobble stones 中砾，中砾石，鹅卵石