December 7, 2016
From Washington, this is VOA news. I'm David DeForest reporting.
NATO's foreign ministers are holding year-end talks in Brussels. This week's NATO meeting comes just days after the European Union unveiled a plan for defense funding and research.
A major item of discussion in this week's meeting is expected to be U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's approach to NATO. Trump's conflicting remarks about the Atlantic alliance have fed European concerns.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says a strong NATO is in everyone's interest. "Stability in Europe, peace in Europe is important for Europe, but is also important for the United States. So, I'm absolutely confident that also in a new administration, the U.S. will continue to stay committed to the NATO." :Jens Stoltenberg.
The European Union's chief negotiator for Britain's exit from the bloc says an agreement must be in place by October 2018.
Michel Barnier issued the timetable Tuesday in Brussels. He warned Britain they would not get a better deal as a non-EU member than they do now.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel wants to ban the full-face veil worn by some Muslim women as a way to stop what she called "parallel societies" from developing in Germany.
Ms. Merkel had just been elected Tuesday as chairwoman of her Christian Democrat Union party when she said the burqa should be forbidden "wherever legally possible." Those places would include schools, courts and other public buildings.
The Syrian government says it will reject any cease-fire agreement that allows rebels to stay in eastern Syria. The Syrian Foreign Ministry argues such an agreement would just allow the rebels to regroup and continue on their battle.
Syrian monitors say the death toll, meanwhile, from a Russian and Syrian air offensive that began late last month against rebel positions southwest of Aleppo has climbed past 300.
This is VOA news.
The United Nations is launching a four-year crisis response plan for Lebanon. Lisa Schlein takes a look.
The United Nations does not believe Lebanon is on the brink of collapse but it warns there is a danger the country could implode if the Syrian refugee crisis is not well managed. Syrian refugees account for 30 percent of Lebanon's population.
The U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Lebanon, Philippe Lazzarini, says it is critical that the international community continue its support for Lebanon and provide the funds needed to promote the crisis response plan.
Lisa Schlein, Geneva.
President-elect Donald Trump briefed to the media Tuesday in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York City. He said he continues the vetting process for positions in his new administration.
Trump says he wants to cancel an order for a new Air Force One, the plane on which the U.S. presidents fly. The planes initially cost about $3 billion, but he says the costs have been rising.
President-elect Trump announced Tuesday the Japanese telecommunications company, Softbank group, plans to invest $50 billion into the U.S. economy and add 50,000 jobs.
A transition team spokesman says Trump sold all of his stock holdings in June. That move should ease some conflict of interest concerns.
President Barack Obama said his administration's shift in the tactics of fighting terrorism - from bearing the brunt of the battle to creating a multinational force that engages local governments - should be credited for gains the United States has made against the Islamic State and al-Qaeda terrorist networks.
In his final major speech on national security, he spoke of the success of the military campaign against the Islamic State group.
"In that campaign, we have now hit ISIL with over 16,000 airstrikes. We have equipped and trained tens of thousands of partners on the ground. And today, the results are clear: ISIL has lost more than half its territory. ISIL has lost control of major population centers. Its morale is plummeting. Its recruitment is drying up. Its commanders and external plotters are being taken out, and local populations are turning against it."
Mr. Obama spoke at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida.
The heads of South Korea's top companies Tuesday denied they had tried to buy influence or preferential treatment when they donated millions of dollars to the two foundations at the center of President Park Geun-hye's impeachment crisis.
Vice President of the Federation of Korea Industries Lee Seung-chul said the Park administration did not make explicit threats or enticements when asking for donations. But [it] he said it was difficult to refuse the requests.
That's the latest world news from VOA.