World News

United States will honor refugee deal with Australia, according to Vice-President Pence

April 22, 2017
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U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said on Saturday the United States would honor a controversial refugee deal with Australia, under which the United States would resettle up to 1,250 asylum seekers, a deal President Donald Trump had described as “dumb”.

Pence told a joint news conference with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull that the deal would be subject to vetting, and that honoring it “doesn’t mean that we admire the agreement”.

“We will honor this agreement out of respect to this enormously important alliance,” Pence said at Turnbull’s harbor side official residence in Sydney.

Australia is one of Washington’s staunchest allies and has sent troops to fight alongside the U.S. military in conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Under the deal, agreed with former President Barack Obama late last year, the United States would resettle up to 1,250 asylum seekers held in offshore processing camps on South Pacific islands in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Nauru.

In return, Australia would resettle refugees from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

The White House has already said it would apply “extreme vetting” to those asylum seekers held in the Australian processing centers seeking resettlement in the United States.

The deal has taken on added importance for Australia, which is under political and legal pressure to shut the camps, particularly one on PNG’s Manus Island where violence between residents and inmates flared last week.

Asylum-seeker advocates welcomed the U.S. commitment, although they remained concerned that “extreme vetting” could see fewer than 1,250 resettled in the United States.

“What still isn’t clear is how many people will have this opportunity, and that clarity must be provided,” said Graham Thom, Refugee Coordinator at Amnesty International Australia.

“The violence on Manus Island last weekend only further demonstrates that the Australian government needs to give a clear commitment that no refugee or person seeking asylum will be left behind in Papua New Guinea or Nauru,” he said. 


An inquiry by an upper house Senate committee in Australia said the government must be more transparent about the operations of the processing centers in PNG and Nauru, which are run by contractors.

The report, released on Friday, also said the Australian government had a duty of care to the asylum seekers being held in the camps.

Australia’s relationship with the new administration in Washington got off to a rocky start when Trump lambasted Turnbull over the resettlement arrangement, which Trump labeled a “dumb” deal.

Details of an acrimonious phone call between the pair soon after Trump took office made headlines around the world.

Turnbull acknowledged Trump’s reluctance, but said the U.S. commitment was a measure of Trump’s new U.S. administration.

“It speaks volumes for the commitment, the integrity of President Trump,” he said.

Pence was speaking on the final leg of a 10-day tour of the Asia-Pacific region that included meetings with political and business leaders in South Korea, Japan and Indonesia.

His trip to Australia is the first by a senior official in the Trump administration as the United States looks to strengthen economic ties and security cooperation amid disputes in the South China Sea and tension on the Korean peninsula.


Marco Rubio denies setting up meeting between Trump and former Colombian presidents

April 22, 2017
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Florida Sen. Marco Rubio denied arranging what has been described as a “secret meeting” between President Trump and two former presidents of Colombia.

“No,” Rubio told CBS Miami in an exclusive interview. “I didn’t have anything to do with that meeting.”

Private meetings at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago raise questions about access 
The informal summit between Mr. Trump and former Colombian presidents Álvaro Uribe and Andrés Pastrana took place last weekend at Mr. Trump’s private resort...

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France kicks off presidential election in Its overseas territories

April 22, 2017
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Polling stations opened Saturday in France's far-flung overseas territories for the country's unpredictable presidential election as the 11 candidates in the race observed a ban on campaigning.

With voting beginning Sunday on the French mainland, the government has mobilized more than 50,000 police and gendarmes to protect 70,000 polling stations, with an additional 7,000 soldiers on patrol.

France's 10 percent unemployment and its lackluster economy top voters' concerns as first-round ballots ...

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Venezuela braces for potentially new violent protest

April 22, 2017
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Venezuela braced for new marches Saturday against President Nicolas Maduro, after the death toll climbed to 20 in three weeks of violence at protests demanding the leftist leader's ouster.

The opposition called for protesters to march in silence to the Catholic Church's episcopal seats nationwide in a show of condemnation of Maduro's government.

It will be a test of the authorities' tolerance for peaceful protests, after days of running battles pitting riot police and pro-government vigilantes ...

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Vice President Mike Pence: US Supercarrier Carl Vinson to arrive in the Sea of Japan within days

April 22, 2017
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US supercarrier Carl Vinson will arrive in the Sea of Japan in days, Vice President Mike Pence said Saturday, on a visit to Australia aimed at mending fences following a testy first call between the countries' leaders.

Pence sought to put to rest the surly telephone conversation between US President Donald Trump and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in January, which rattled a long-standing alliance between the two powers.

Trump reportedly exploded and cut short the call when he was to...

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China reacts angrily over South Korea Decision to deploy U.S missile defense system

February 28, 2017
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Chinese state media has reacted with anger and threats of boycotts after the board of an affiliate of South Korea's Lotte Group approved a land swap with the government that will enable authorities to deploy a U.S. missile defence system.

The government decided last year to deploy the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, in response to the North Korean missile threat, on land that is part of a golf course owned by Lotte in the Seongju region, southeast of Seoul.

The board of...

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U.N Security Council condemns North Korea's ballistic missil launch

February 14, 2017

The U.N. Security Council is strongly condemning North Korea's ballistic missile launches and warning of "further significant measures" if Pyongyang doesn't stop nuclear and missile testing.

A council statement late Monday followed a strong condemnation by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres of the latest launch and a pledge by U.S. President Donald Trump to deal with North Korea "very strongly."

The Security Council condemned the Saturday launch and a previous launch on Oct. 19, saying North Ko...

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Taiwan: 32 dead after tour bus flipped on highway

February 14, 2017
Rescuers gather around a crashed bus in Taipei, Taiwan February 13, 2017.

A bus carrying Taiwanese tourists on a trip to view cherry blossoms flipped over on an expressway ramp in Taiwan's capital on Monday, killing 32 people and injuring many others, officials said.

The bus was carrying 44 people when it crashed Monday evening on the No. 5 expressway, the Taipei city fire department said. It said authorities were still trying to determine the cause of the accident.

"It happened on a curve, so the bus flipped and that could be due to excess speed," said Tu Bing-cheng...

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Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto cancelled meeting with US President Donald Trump

January 27, 2017
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Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto cancelled on Thursday a scheduled meeting with US President Donald Trump next week amid a deepening dispute over a border wall promised by America's new leader.

"This morning we informed the White House that I will not attend the work meeting planned for next Tuesday with the POTUS [president of the US]," Pena Nieto said on Twitter. "Mexico reiterates its willingness to work with the United States to reach accords that favour both nations."

The Mexican pres...

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Gambia's new President, Adama Barrow, to be inaugurated Feb.18

January 27, 2017
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Billboards across Gambia's capital are declaring a Feb. 18 ceremony to mark the inauguration of the country's new leader, a day after his triumphant arrival.

Hundreds of thousands turned out Thursday to greet President Adama Barrow, a week after he took the oath of office in neighboring Senegal. Longtime ruler Yahya Jammeh, who clung to power despite losing December elections, finally flew into exile over the weekend after mounting international pressure.

Gambia: New President Adama Barrow will...

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