December 29, 2016
From Washington, this is VOA news. I'm David DeForest reporting.
Russian and Turkish officials have been trying to come up with a cease-fire in the Syrian civil war.
The Turkish state Anadolu news agency, citing an official source, says a cease-fire has already been prepared, but Russian officials would not comment on the report and rebel groups deny a truce has been agreed on.
Officials are trying to expand the current Aleppo cease-fire to cover the whole country.
German authorities have detained a Tunisian man allegedly linked to Anis Amri, the man who carried out an attack on a Berlin Christmas market.
Federal prosecutors said on Wednesday the 40-year-old man [has detained] was detained after a search of his business and residence. Officials said the man's telephone number was saved on Amri's cellphone.
Prosecutors have until Thursday to decide whether or not they have enough evidence to seek a formal arrest warrant.
Former Argentine President Cristina Fernández has been indicted on charges of directing a corrupt enterprise while attempting to hide millions of dollars in a convent. Fernández has denied the charges.
A federal judge charged Fernández and other officials of colluding to steal public funds that were meant for public road projects between 2003 and 2015.
Such an illicit association conviction would warrant a possible ten-year prison sentence.
Fernández says current Argentine President Mauricio Macri is manipulating the judicial system to persecute her.
A North Korean defector told reporters Tuesday that the next year is most likely the time for North Korea to bolster its nuclear program. Thae Yong-ho said that is due to leadership changes in Washington and in Seoul.
This is VOA news.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry unveiled broad guidelines Wednesday for an eventual peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, warning a two-state solution to the conflict is in "serious jeopardy." No major new proposals were included in Kerry's hour-long speech at the State Department.
Kerry defended the U.S. decision last week to abstain from a United Nations Security Council resolution that condemned Israeli settlements in areas claimed by Palestinians.
"The two-state solution is the only way to achieve a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians. It is the only way to ensure Israel's future as a Jewish and democratic state."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Wednesday called Kerry's speech a "deep disappointment." In a late night news conference, Mr. Netanyahu said the speech was as "unbalanced" as the U.N. resolution itself.
"Secretary Kerry paid lip service to the unremitting campaign of terrorism that has been waged by the Palestinians against the Jewish state for nearly a century. What he did was spend most of his speech blaming Israel for the lack of peace."
He vowed to work with incoming Trump administration to improve relations in the wake of the fallout over the U.N. resolution.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian president says he is ready to resume peace talks if Israel freezes settlement construction.
U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham says Russia did interfere in the recent U.S. presidential election and can expect hard-hitting sanctions.
Graham said Wednesday that in 2017, the U.S. Congress will investigate Russia's involvement in the November 8 election. The senator says he expects tough new sanctions against Russia to get bipartisan support. He said sanctions would target President Vladimir Putin personally.
"It is now time for Russia to understand enough is enough."
Russia, though, is denying allegations that President Putin was personally involved in hacking.
White supremacist Dylann Roof, who murdered nine black worshippers at a Charleston, South Carolina, church has told a judge he does not plan to call any witnesses or present any evidence during the penalty phase of his trial.
Roof faces the death penalty.
The U.S. Embassy in Ankara issued a strongly worded statement Wednesday denying claims by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that U.S.-led coalition forces have given support to the Islamic State group.
Mr. Erdoğan Tuesday accused the coalition of not only backing IS but also backing Kurdish rebel factions operating inside and outside of Turkey.
A U.S. official called Mr. Erdoğan's comments "ludicrous."
From the VOA news center in Washington, I'm David DeForest.
That's the latest world news from VOA.