June 30, 2017
From Washington, this is VOA news. I'm Joe Parker reporting.
Secretary of defense speaks out on Afghanistan.
"I don't put timelines on war. It's that simple; war is a fundamentally unpredictable phenomenon."
NATO allies have agreed to send more troops to Afghanistan and U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the alliance has filled nearly three-fourths of the gaps in requirements for their mission in the war-torn country.
"We still have a few gaps and nations are stepping up. We've filled 70 per cent of those gaps right now and I'm very, very optimistic that based on what I've heard here we'll be filling the rest."
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says 15 nations have already pledged additional contributions to Resolute Support mission -- that's the NATO mission to Afghanistan -- and further announcements from other nations were expected.
Iraqi forces have retaken control of the destroyed historic mosque in the city of Mosul, where three years ago, the head of the Islamic State group announced a self-declared caliphate.
This is Army Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend: "Over the course of these past three years, a coalition of more than 16 nations has united to defeat ISIS. We have conducted tens of thousands of precision strikes to support Iraqi operations. We trained and equipped more than 54,000 Iraqi forces. And we supported our Iraqi partners. They fought to liberate their country."
Militants blew up the 850-year-old Grand al-Nuri mosque and its leaning 45-meter minaret last week, furthering the devastation of Mosul during eight months of fighting.
Fighting continued on Thursday in Mosul, but members of special forces fighting militants in the city told VOA they believe to be in control of the Old City, the Islamic State's stronghold, by Friday or Saturday.
This is VOA news.
As of moments ago, the United States has just begun implementing new travel rules requiring visa applicants from six majority-Muslim nations to have a close relationship with a family member or business in the U.S. in order to be eligible to be admitted to the country.
Senior administration officials on Thursday outlined how consular officials should proceed with the visa applications for people from Yemen, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Iran.
Anyone in transit to the U.S. with travel scheduled before July 6 will be allowed to enter. Those with travel booked after will be addressed "later," according to senior administration officials.
Previously scheduled visa application appointments will not be canceled, according to administration officials.
National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster says U.S. President Donald Trump will have his first face-to-face meeting with President Vladimir Putin of Russia at the Group of 20 Summit next week in Hamburg, Germany.
McMaster would not say at a White House media briefing on Thursday whether the two leaders will discuss Russia's interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election when they meet on the sidelines of the summit.
The United Nations said Thursday that Tehran is in compliance with its obligations under an international nuclear deal, but U.S. envoy Nikki Haley disputed that.
"The secretary-general's report makes clear that Iran is in violation of the Security Council Resolution 2231. And so the question becomes: what is the Security Council going to do about it?"
The resolution was adopted in July of 2015, endorsing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that aims to ensure Iran does not acquire nuclear weapons. The five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany negotiated the deal with Iran.
U.N. political chief Jeffrey Feltman said since implementation of the plan on January 16 of 2016, "the International Atomic Energy Agency has issued seven reports documenting continued implementation by Iran of its nuclear-related commitments."
U.S. Ambassador Haley seized on this information, saying the secretariat's report was "filled with devastating evidence of the nature of the Iranian regime."
"For our part, the United States will not continue to turn a blind eye to the Iranian regime's behavior. In our national capacity, the United States will do our part to enforce Resolution 2231."
She said the U.S. would not ignore such behavior and would continue to enforce the resolution, including interdicting prohibited cargo and imposing unilateral sanctions.
Italian officials say their government has told the European Commission in Brussels it is considering refusing entry to migrants bound for Europe who are rescued from drowning in the Mediterranean.
Italy's proposed remedies to stop non- Italian registered ships from entering its ports if their purpose is the disembark migrants.
This is Joe Parker reporting from Washington.
That's the latest world news from VOA.
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