May 16, 2018
From Washington, this is VOA news. I'm Tommie McNeil reporting.
An announcement by North Korea Tuesday has put the peace process between it and the United States as well as South Korea in limbo.
The North canceled a high-level Wednesday meeting with South Korea over joint military exercises the U.S. and South Korea recently started.
VOA White House correspondent Steve Herman says he tried to get an official position on this from the Trump administration after this news broke. He says it could be less than diplomatic when they do release a statement.
He has said before that he is hopeful and optimistic about the talks and a positive outcome, but there is always a possibility that it could be scrapped. And he has said when he sits down with Kim Jong Un if he doesn't like what he is hearing, he will respectfully leave the table.
State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert says it's too early to get worked up about a report that the North Koreans are threatening to cancel next month's summit between the North and the U.S.
"We are operating under the idea and the notion that the president's meeting is going forward with Chairman Kim next month."
She adds that the North was aware of the joint exercises and earlier stressed that it understood their importance.
President Trump's nominee for CIA director says the agency should not have run the harsh interrogation program after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the U.S.
Gina Haspel made the comments in a letter sent Monday to Virginia Senator Mark Warner. He is the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee. Haspel is seeking his support before committee vote set for Wednesday.
Haspel said in the letter the program "is not one the CIA should have undertaken," a position she did not publicly express during confirmation hearings last week.
This is VOA news.
Thousands of Palestinian mourners rallied in Gaza Tuesday at funerals for the first of dozens of protesters killed in border clashes with Israeli security forces, an assault U.N. human rights officials condemned as "appalling."
Reuters Lucy Fielder.
More clashes erupted on Tuesday. More than 2,000 people have been wounded. No Israeli deaths were reported.
Israel says it was acting in self-defense, but Gazans are calling it a massacre.
Tuesday is expected to be the final day of the protest campaign after six weeks.
Even before the bloodshed, it was to be a day of grief, a commemoration of what the Palestinians call the Nakba or "catastrophe" when Israel was created 70 years ago and hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were driven from their homes in violence.
Reuters Lucy Fielder reporting.
Afghan forces say they have pushed back the Taliban as reports said heavy fighting continued in Farah city, the capital of Afghanistan's western Farah province.
Fierce fighting broke out in the pre-dawn hours Tuesday after Taliban fighters attacked from the north and reached within three kilometers of the center of the province, according to a spokesperson. Army officials said most of the fighting took place in the northern and western parts of the city.
Meanwhile, eyewitnesses have told VOA that Taliban are still inside Farah city and fighting continued later Tuesday.
The United States has imposed sanctions on the head of Iran's central bank, accusing him of helping funnel millions of dollars to Lebanon-based militant group Hezbollah.
Also blacklisted were the assistant director of the international department of Iran's central bank and chairman of Al-Bilad Islamic Bank.
Even before U.S. and Chinese officials were sitting down this week for a second round of high-level trade talks in Washington, both sides signaled a willingness to try and make a deal or at least meet the other halfway.
White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah says U.S. President Trump has asked Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to look into Chinese concerns about sanctions against ZTE, China's second largest telecommunications firm.
"It's an issue of high concern for China that's been raised with the U.S. government and with our administration at various levels. So the president has asked Secretary Ross to look into it consistent with applicable laws and regulations."
China has long been criticized for its trade policies for forcing foreign companies to hand over technology in return for access to its markets and its rampant problem of intellectual property theft.
President Trump pledged to get even with China on trade practices that hurt American consumers. He did this during his election campaign.
More at voanews.com. I'm Tommie McNeil, VOA news.
That's the latest world news from VOA.