March 18, 2017
From Washington, this is VOA news. I'm David Byrd reporting.
President Donald Trump says that Germany is a strong U.S. ally but repeated calls for NATO members to pay their fair share.
Speaking at the White House after meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Trump said the close relationship with Germany is based on what he called shared values.
"The close friendship between America and Germany is built on our shared values. We cherish individual rights, we uphold the rule of law, and we seek peace among nations."
Trump also pushed back against reports that his "America first" policy is isolationist, saying that he is trying to reverse trade deals to better serve U.S. interests rather than pull back from the world entirely.
The president also repeated his controversial assertion that former President Barack Obama had the Trump Tower under surveillance before and after last year's election.
Asked by a German reporter about the charge, Trump turned to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and said, "Maybe we have something in common." In 2013, a former NSA contractor released documents that showed the U.S. National Security Agency had tapped Merkel's phone.
Trump deflected responsibility for a statement in Thursday's White House press briefing that Britain's spy agency, GCHQ, had wiretapped him at Obama's request.
"I didn't make an opinion on it. That was a statement made by a very talented lawyer on Fox. And so you shouldn't be talking to me, you should be talking to Fox."
Fox said Friday it knows of no evidence of any kind that the now president was surveilled at any time in any way. Britain's GCHQ called the charges "ridiculous" and asked that they be stopped.
This is VOA news.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson defended on Friday the implementation of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system in South Korea and warned China it should address the escalating threat from North Korea.
Speaking during a news conference with South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se in Seoul, the U.S. secretary of state called on Beijing to end the informal sanctions it has imposed on South Korea to protest the THAAD deployment.
"We believe these actions are unnecessary and we believe they're troubling. We also believe it is not the way for a regional power to help resolve what is a serious threat to everyone. And so we would hope that China would alter its position on punishing South Korea for the THAAD system."
Tillerson arrived in China early Saturday for meetings with senior Chinese officials. He is expected to press for more action on North Korea as well as discuss China's moves in the South China Sea.
The International Organization for Migration says 42 Somali refugees were killed when a helicopter gunship attacked their boat off the coast of Yemen overnight.
Survivors of the attacks said the refugees were traveling to Sudan to escape Yemen.
Mohammed Abdiker is with the IOM: "This is the first time for the last time. The conflict has been going part of such a blatant attack on innocent civilians, which is totally unacceptable to us. There must be a way to have checked to know who's in that boat before firing on it."
The IOM said nearly 80 refugees were rescued and had been taken to the nearby city of Hodeidah.
Yemen's Houthi rebels accused the Saudi-led air coalition of carrying out the attack. The coalition has heavily bombarded Hodeidah in recent weeks, accusing the rebels of smuggling weapons there.
The Pentagon says it carried out an airstrike against al-Qaeda in Syria, but denied hitting a mosque where a human rights group said more than 40 people were killed.
A Pentagon spokesman said manned and unmanned aircraft targeted a building next to the mosque, killing dozens of "core al-Qaeda" senior members who were meeting inside the building.
Earlier, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 42 people were killed and dozens more wounded in the airstrike on the mosque in northern Syria.
Israeli officials say Syria fired missiles at Israeli airplanes on a mission to destroy a weapons convoy intended for the Iranian-backed Hezbollah militia.
The Israeli army said its aircraft struck several targets in Syria and were back in Israeli-controlled airspace when Syria fired the missiles at them.
An IDF statement said that none of its planes was damaged.
I'm David Byrd in Washington.
That's the latest world news from VOA.