May 4, 2017
From Washington, this is VOA news. I'm Jee Abbey Lee reporting.
President Donald Trump says he will do whatever is necessary to reach a Mideast peace agreement and believes there is a very good chance of bringing Israel and the Palestinians together.
Trump met with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in the Oval Office and the president says he would "love to be a mediator, an arbitrator or a facilitator" between the two sides.
"I'm committed to working with Israel and the Palestinians to reach an agreement. But any agreement cannot be imposed by the United States or by any other nation. The Palestinians and Israelis must work together to reach an agreement that allows both peoples to live, worship, and thrive and prosper in peace."
Abbas spoke to an interpreter and said, "We are coming into a new opportunity, a new horizon that will enable us to bring about peace."
The United States is bringing its Southeast Asian allies on board to tackle North Korea's nuclear proliferation and missile threats. Foreign ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, will gather Thursday in Washington.
A senior State Department official told VOA that Washington is urging the ASEAN members to "cut diplomatic ties" with Pyongyang.
A U.S. military official confirmed to VOA Wednesday an Iranian submarine has made an unsuccessful missile launch attempt in the Strait of Hormuz.
The official said the Yono-class submarine attempted to launch a cruise missile early Tuesday.
Last month, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis visited the region and pledged support for the allies' efforts to counter Iran's destabilizing activities.
This is VOA news.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson singled out China in the Trump administration's new approach to pressure North Korea to stop its provocative nuclear weapons program and missile tests.
Tillerson said there was an assumption that "China has limited influence on the regime in Pyongyang," or "they have a limited willingness to assert their influence" when President Donald Trump ordered a policy review on the North earlier this year.
In his second address to State Department employees on Wednesday, Tillerson said the difference in Washington's approach this time is that the assumption will be tested.
"And so that's what we've been doing, is leaning hard into China to test their willingness to use their influence, their engagement with the regime in North Korea."
Washington is to host the first round of the U.S.-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue in June, during which North Korea's nuclear and missile proliferation is high on the agenda.
The top U.S. diplomat said Washington is preparing additional sanctions if North Korea's actions warrant them.
"We are preparing additional sanctions, if it turns out North Korea's actions warrant additional sanctions. We're hopeful that the regime in North Korea will think about this and come to a conclusion that there's another way to the future." :U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
FBI Director James Comey face questions Wednesday about his pivotal role in last year's U.S. presidential election.
Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Comey was asked about its decision to announce a new probe against Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton only 11 days before the election.
The FBI investigation was on whether Clinton mishandled classified information on a private email server as a secretary of state.
"Look, this was terrible. It makes me mildly nauseous to think we might have had some impact on the election but honestly it wouldn't change the decision. Everybody who disagrees with me has to come back to October 28 with me and stare at this and tell me what you would do -- would you speak or would you conceal? And I could be wrong but we honestly made a decision between those two choices that even in hindsight and this has been one of the world's most painful experiences, I would make the same decision. I would not conceal that on October 28 from the Congress." :FBI Director James Comey.
North Korea on Wednesday confirmed the detention of another American citizen for alleged acts of hostility aimed at overthrowing the country.
The Korean Central News Agency reports Kim Sang Dok, an accounting instructor at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, was "intercepted" at Pyongyang International Airport on April 22. It said he was being detained while authorities conduct a detailed investigation into his crime.
I am Jee Abbey Lee in Washington.
That's the latest world news from VOA.
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