March 16, 2017
From Washington, this is VOA news. I'm Jee Abbey Lee reporting.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is in Japan on the first leg of a three-nation trip to Asia. The tour is designed to reassure allies and discuss ways to counter growing nuclear and missile threats from North Korea.
As Tillerson travels to meet with foreign leaders in Japan, South Korea and China, he will not be accompanied by dozens of reporters from news organizations that traditionally have traveled with a secretary of state.
Instead, only one reporter with the conservative leaning website, the Independent Journal Review, was chosen to travel with Tillerson on this trip.
VOA's State Department correspondent Cindy Saine reports.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson got good press on his first day on the job February 2. "Hi, I'm the new guy."
But ever since then, he has doggedly ignored reporters' questions.
His decision to break with precedent on his first major trip to Asia at a time when North Korea's missile tests are major news story has raised a lot of questions.
Acting State Department spokesman Mark Toner was asked about that signal Monday.
"Well, that's not what we would intend to, a message we would intend to send."
On Friday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Tillerson was being cost conscious by taking a smaller plane without room for traveling journalists.
The State Department says Tillerson will be holding a press availability on his stop in Japan.
Cindy Saine, VOA news, the State Department.
Tillerson is scheduled to meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo.
The top diplomat goes to South Korea Friday before ending his trip in China.
This is VOA news.
After six years of budget cuts, the U.S. Navy is expected to see a funding increase when President Donald Trump's administration unveils its 2018 budget later this week. VOA's Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
The Trump administration's budget released this week could increase defense spending by $54 billion, with much of that going to the Navy.
"We will give our military the tools you need to prevent war and, if required, to fight war and only do one thing -- you know what that is? Win. Win."
Former Pentagon Comptroller Mike McCord says that boosted budget will not improve naval readiness without a long-term financial commitment.
"If you don't have adequate funding, then having more ships, more sailors with the same budget you had before, or only a slight increase or an unpredictable or unsustainable increase, they're all chasing the same level of resources, and you're not necessarily going to be much better off."
That means the proposed funding boost will require even more money in the future.
Carla Babb, VOA news, aboard the USS George H. W. Bush.
The top leaders of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee said Wednesday President Donald Trump's claim that his predecessor, Barack Obama, wiretapped him in the weeks before last November's election is unfounded. VOA's Jeff Caster has details.
Intelligence Committee Chairman Republican Congressman Devin Nunes and the committee's top Democrat, Congressman Adam Schiff, spoke to Wednesday at the Capitol.
Nunes says the president's claims could not be confirmed.
"I want to say, as I told you last week about the issue with the president talking about tapping Trump Tower, that evidence still remains the same. But we don't have any evidence that took place. In fact, I don't believe, just in the last week of time, the people we've talked to, I don't think there was an actual tap of Trump Tower."
Nunes and Schiff said they are waiting for information from the U.S. Department of Justice by next Monday about whether the agency knows of any court ordered of wiretaps of Trump, but said they have learned of no such surveillance so far in their investigation.
Jeff Caster, VOA news, Washington.
Exit polls from the Netherlands election suggest that Prime Minister Mark Rutte won re-election, defeating anti-immigrant, anti-Islam nationalist Geert Wilders.
Rutte's People's Party for Freedom and Democracy is predicted to have won 31 seats, far ahead of any other party, including Wilders'.
Wilders' run was seen as the latest test of a wave of populism to sweep across Europe extending as far as the United States across the Atlantic. His climb to prominence was seen as further warning that cooperation among European nations could be threatened.
I'm Jee Abbey Lee in Washington.
That's the latest world news from VOA.