February 4, 2017
From Washington, this is VOA news. I'm Michael Brown reporting.
The United States has slapped Iran with new sanctions against individuals and entities linked to Tehran's ballistic missile program and its proxies across the Middle East.
Officials say the sanctions are in response and in part to Iran's missile testing activities in defiance to the U.N. resolution barring Iran from engaging in such tests.
In Iran, senior cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami blasted the new sanctions, saying they will violate the joint comprehensive plan of action known as the Iran nuclear deal.
The Associated Press news agency reporting that none of the new sanctions appear to reverse the Obama administration's suspension of sanctions as part of the 2015 nuclear deal.
A spokesman for President Donald Trump said Israel's expansion of settlement will not help efforts to secure peace with Palestinians.
A White House spokesman Sean Spicer stopped short of condemning the settlement construction [Mr. Palestinians] Palestinians, that is, have said impeded efforts to seek peace.
"We don't believe that the existence of current settlements is an impediment to peace, but I don't think the construction or expansion of existing settlements beyond the current borders may not be helpful movement forward."
Spicer says peace will be tops on the agenda when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits the president on February 15.
A U.S. Navy destroyer is patrolling off the coast of Yemen Friday to protect international waterways from Houthi militia aligned with Iran.
The U.S. military moved up its plan to have the USS Cole in the vicinity of the Bab al-Mandab Strait after a Houthi suicide attack on a Saudi frigate in the Red Sea on Monday that killed two crew members.
From here in Washington, this is VOA news.
The Republican-led U.S. Congress narrowly passed a bill on Friday toward fulfilling a promise to roll back Obama administration regulations.
The Senate passed legislation to end their rule requiring oil and gas companies to disclose payments from the U.S. and foreign governments.
Democratic opponents argued the rule furthered transparency and helped prevent corruption in foreign governments' dealings with oil companies.
The rule is part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank legislation passed by the Obama administration following the 2008 financial crisis.
U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis is reassuring Japanese leaders that President Trump is fully committed to defending Japan as a treaty partner.
During a meeting with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo, Mattis reaffirmed the U.S. administration's policy to stand firmly behind Japan.
"The reason this is my first trip out of the United States is because of the priority the United States places on the ??? Japan and the concern about the security environment we face here in the northwest Pacific."
Mr. Abe praised Mattis' visit ahead of the Japanese leader's trip to Washington next week.
The U.S. State Department says less than 60,000 visas have been canceled as a result of President Trump's executive order banning travel from seven countries.
Earlier, the Department of Justice lawyers said more than 100,000 visas were revoked after the people (they) were issued to were blocked from traveling to the U.S.
The State Department said the higher figure included diplomatic and other visas that were exempted from the ban.
Trump's order bans visa holders from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen. He says the measure is necessary to protect the safety of American people from terrorists.
The ban has set off several legal challenges.
A U.N. report released Friday charges that thousands of Rohingya children, women, and men have suffered gang rapes, killings, beatings, disappearances and other acts of cruelty at the hands of Myanmar's police and security forces.
The report, issued by the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, documents testimony from scores of victims who have fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar.
Here now from a lead U.N. human rights investigator: "The High Commissioner has been calling on the international community to stand up and take notice of this horrible situation in northern Rakhine state for a very long time now. We've been seeking access, we've been seeking access. The government of Myanmar has been denying that these violations are taking place. We've been saying 'OK. Give us access. We will go, independently assess for ourselves what has happened.'"
A spokesman for the Myanmar government says they will conduct their own investigation.
I'm Michael Brown reporting in Washington.
That's the latest world news from VOA.