February 21, 2017
From Washington, this is VOA news. I'm David DeForest reporting.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence Monday voiced his nation's support for the NATO military alliance. Speaking at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Pence also said too many European countries do not have a credible plan to increase their defense spending.
Pence's remarks received the support of NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, who has long advocated more robust military spending.
In several meetings, Pence vowed that the United States will continue to hold Russia accountable.
"In the wake of Russian efforts to redraw international borders by force, the United States will continue its leadership role in the enhanced forward presence initiative and other critical joint actions."
Pence also said President Donald Trump has directed to search for ways to find new common ground with Russia.
U.S. Defense Secretary, I should say, U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said Monday the United States does not intend to seize oil from Iraq, something President Donald Trump has in the past advocated. Mattis also vowed to support Iraq through the fight against the Islamic State group.
Mattis spoke to reporters traveling with him to Iraq for an unannounced visit. That visit came on the second day of a military offensive to push Islamic State militants from the western part of the city of Mosul.
"The Iraqi army continues to surge against the enemy on the west side of Mosul. Despite the casualties they have taken, this is an army that has learned to fight in the middle of a real tough battle."
On Monday, Iraqi forces moved forward targeting a hill that overlooks the city's airport.
Russia's long-time U.N. ambassador Vitaly Churkin died suddenly on Monday in New York. His death came just a day before he would have turned 65.
This is VOA news.
President Donald Trump has chosen Lieutenant General Hebert R. McMaster as his new national security adviser. He made the announcement at his Florida home.
Mr. Trump called H.R. McMaster "a man of tremendous talent and experience."
He also said acting adviser Keith Kellogg will now serve as the National Security Council chief of staff.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence says America is committed to its partnership with the European Union and NATO.
Ukrainian officials are already warning that a cease-fire that went into effect Monday in eastern Ukraine is at risk of falling apart.
Under the cease-fire announced [by Munich] in Munich by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, both sides - Ukrainian government forces and Russian-backed separatists - are supposed to abide by the two-year-old Minsk agreement and withdraw heavy weaponry from the front lines.
Just hours before the truce was announced, a separatist leader issued military threats.
The chief of a European monitoring mission says there has been a significant reduction in military incidents.
Diplomatic tensions are rising between North Korea and Malaysia. That in the aftermath of the apparent assassination of the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Kang Chol, North Korea's envoy to Kuala Lumpur, called for a joint probe into the death of Kim Jong Nam Monday, telling reporters his side cannot trust the investigation by the Malaysian police.
Malaysia's prime minister responded that by saying his country has no reason to "paint the North Koreas in a bad light" and expressed absolute confidence in the objectivity of the investigation.
Malaysia's health minister says [an autopsy] autopsy results [can] could be released as early as Wednesday.
Thousands of protesters rallied nationwide to oppose the Trump administration. During Monday's President's Day holiday in the U.S., the so-called "Not My President" Rallies have demonstrators gathering across the country to support people of a long list of minority causes.
Events were underway from Boston to Seattle where protesters said they hoped to make it an anti-Trump day.
President Trump says what he calls the "fake news media" is defending Sweden's immigration policies, but that recent immigration into the country has been a failure.
Mr. Trump's tweet extended for another day of a controversy he ignited when he erroneously told a weekend political rally that something terrible had occurred on Friday in Sweden.
Mr. Trump explained that his remark referred to a news broadcast about immigrants in Sweden and not a terrorist attack.
The Mogadishu ambulance service says the death toll from Sunday's car bomb blast in Somalia's capital has now climbed to 39.
On Wall Street, U.S. stock indexes were up at the close of trade today.
In Washington, I'm David DeForest.
That's the latest world news from VOA.
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