February 16, 2017
From Washington, this is VOA news. I'm David DeForest reporting.
U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu projected a message of unity during a White House meeting Wednesday. Mr. Trump suggested that the U.S. could back either a two-state or a one-state solution for the region depending on what both parties like.
Here is Mr. Netanyahu: "The two pre-requisites of peace: Recognition of the Jewish state, and Israel's security needs west of the Jordan. They remain pertinent. We have to look for new ways, new ideas, on how to reinstate them."
During their news conference, Mr. Trump asked Mr. Netanyahu to "hold back for a little bit" on expanding settlements in Palestinian territory while the White House works on efforts to revive the Middle East peace process.
President Trump struck back Wednesday at media reports about alleged links between him and Russia.
In a string of Twitter comments, the president blamed the intelligence community for what he called "illegal" leaks to the media.
Reports appearing in The Washington Post last week revealed possibly improper conversations between ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and the Russian ambassador.
Later in public remarks, the president staunchly defended Flynn, saying he is a wonderful man that has been treated unfairly by the media.
"... very, very unfairly by the media, as I call it, the fake media in many cases. And I think it's really a sad thing that he was treated so badly."
Some senior Republican senators vowed Wednesday to investigate the matter while opposition Democrats are calling for an independent probe.
Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced legislation Wednesday to prevent the administration from repealing sanctions on Russia without congressional approval.
This is VOA news.
U.S. retail sales and inflation rose in January, strengthening the case for the central bank to raise interest rates. Retail sales advanced four-tenths of a percent for the month.
Another report shows U.S. consumer prices rose at the fastest pace in nearly four years, with costs gaining six-tenths of a percent in January and 2.5 percent in the past year.
U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis sought Wednesday to allay NATO concerns about America's commitment to Europe's security at a meeting in Brussels with his NATO counterparts.
Mattis said the military alliance is central to the relationship between America and its European allies. He also said it is time for members to pay their fair share of defense costs.
"It's absolutely appropriate, as the European minister of defense said last week, it's a fair demand that all who benefit from the best defense in the world carry their proportionate share of the necessary cost to defend freedom."
NATO members see the meeting as a chance to reaffirm America's commitment to Europe's security.
President Trump's nominee for labor secretary says he is withdrawing his name from consideration for the job.
Andrew Puzder has raised concerns on Capitol Hill due to his failure to pay taxes on a housekeeper who was not authorized to work in the U.S.
Organizers are calling for immigrants in several American cities to miss class, miss work and not shop on Thursday, the so-called "Day Without Immigrants" demonstrations being staged to protest the immigration policies of the Trump administration.
A round of Syria peace talks scheduled to begin Wednesday in Kazakhstan has been delayed until Thursday.
Kazakhstan's Foreign Ministry did not offer an explanation for the change.
A second round of talks in Moscow on Afghanistan ended Wednesday.
Representatives from Afghanistan were included in the talks for the first time, joining those from Russia, Pakistan, China, Iran and India.
Two bomb explosions in northwestern Pakistan killed at least six people and wounded many others Wednesday.
Officials say the deadliest incident happened in the Mohmand tribal district near the Afghan border, where a suicide bomber blew himself up after security forces spotted him and tried to stop him.
A second bomber accompanying the attacker was gunned down while he tried to detonate explosives strapped to his body.
A splinter faction of the Taliban is claiming responsibility.
Hours after that, a suicide bomber riding a motorcycle attacked an official van transporting members of the provincial judiciary in the city of Peshawar.
Taking a brief look at market activities, on Wall Street, U.S. stock indexes were up at the close of trade on Wednesday.
From the VOA news center in Washington, I'm David DeForest.
That's the latest world news from VOA.