August 5, 2016
From Washington, this is VOA news. I'm David DeForest reporting. U.S. President Barack Obama met at the Pentagon Thursday with top military and national security advisers to discuss the fight against the Islamic State group.
The meeting came as the U.S. launches more airstrikes in and around an Islamic State stronghold of Libya.
The Pentagon says the operation in Libya will probably last weeks rather than months.
Mr. Obama Thursday denied that a payment of $400 million in cash to Iran on the same day as a hostage release was a ransom. The president said the transfer was announced in January, a day after implementation of the nuclear agreement with Iran.
U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce said "paying ransom only puts more American lives in jeopardy."
During a visit to Argentina Thursday, Secretary of State John Kerry defended the move, saying "the United States of America does not pay ransom and does not negotiate ransoms with any country."
Mr. Obama said he was not confident that we can trust the Russians and Vladimir Putin to help the U.S. bring peace to Syria.
The president said Russia may not be able to help end the violence, "either because they don't want to, or because," he said, "they don't have sufficient influence over Syrian President Bashar al-Assad."
The Taliban Thursday claimed responsibility for ambushing a group of U.S. and European tourists in Afghanistan's western Herat province, wounding six of the tourists and their Afghan driver.
A provincial police spokesman said the attack took place in the Chishti Sharif area shortly after the tourists arrived from Bamiyan province.
Also, a Pakistani helicopter crash landed in Afghanistan's Logar province.
This is VOA news.
New polling data shows Democrat Hillary Clinton has the over Republican Donald Trump in four key states.
The latest polls show Clinton opening a 9 percentage point edge in Michigan, a 15 point advantage in New Hampshire, an 11 point lead in Pennsylvania and a 6 point lead in Florida.
Clinton campaigned in Las Vegas, Nevada, and addressed the frustration of voters.
"Maybe they are angry because there is a lot to be concerned about. We need to talk, we need to talk, because we don't want you being sold the same bill of goods that the students who signed up to go to Trump University were sold."
Clinton's opponent Donald Trump spoke to a crowd of supporters and again promised a wall along the southern U.S. border to keep out illegal aliens.
"We have border problems. People are pouring into our country. We have no idea who they are. We have people, we are going to build a wall folks. Donft worry about it. We will build a wall."
Polls show Clinton has a larger but not insurmountable lead over Trump nationally. In an average of polls, Clinton is ahead of Trump by about six points.
Results from South Africa's municipal elections show the ruling ANC party winning a majority of seats but getting a strong rebuke from voters in major metropolitan areas. Anita Powell reports.
Election results released Thursday show South African voters turning away from the long-dominant African National Congress party in large numbers and denying them an outright win in major urban areas.
The ANC, the party credited with leading South Africa out of apartheid, will continue to hold more local government seats than any other party. But this election has yielded decisive gains by the opposition Democratic Alliance, especially in metropolitan areas like Johannesburg, Pretoria and the seaside city of Port Elizabeth. The DA already holds the city of Cape Town and surrounding Western Cape Province.
The far-left Economic Freedom Fighters also made gains nationally.
Anita Powell, Johannesburg.
The woman stabbed to death in an attack late Wednesday in London was the wife of a Florida State University psychology professor.
London police say they have found no evidence to suggest terrorism was the motive in the knife attack. They say mental health issues were involved when a man of Somali ancestry killed the woman and wounded five other people.
The 19-year-old mas is in police custody at a hospital.
Turkish media say a court in Istanbul issued an arrest warrant Thursday for U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who the government accuses of being behind the recent failed coup attempt.
The Turkish government has said that Gulen masterminded the coup and has called on the U.S. to extradite him to Turkey.
Gulen has denied any involvement or prior knowledge in the coup attempt on July 15 and has condemned it.
In Washington, I'm David DeForest.
That's the latest world news from VOA.