March 4, 2017
From Washington, this is VOA news. I'm David Byrd reporting.
President Trump took to Twitter Friday to defend his attorney general, Jeff Sessions. The president tweeted that he was demanding an investigation of Democratic congressional leaders, Charles Schumer in the Senate and Nancy Pelosi in the House, in his words, for "her ties to Russia and lying about it."
The tweet included a photo of Pelosi in a meeting in 2010 with former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at the table.
Pelosi had told the political news journal, Politico, that she never met with Kislyak. Her spokesman said Friday afternoon the California Democrat meant she never had a private meeting with him.
Sessions admitted Thursday that he met twice with Kislyak during last year's presidential campaign and had failed to disclose those talks during his Senate confirmation hearing. He also said he would stay out of any investigation into possible Russian tampering with last year's election.
On Thursday, both Pelosi and Charles Schumer had called for Sessions to resign.
President Trump stopped by an Orlando, Florida, Catholic school on his way to his Mar-a-lago estate in Palm Beach for the weekend.
The president praised the school as an example of schools helping disadvantaged children.
"St. Andrew's Catholic school represents one of the many parochial schools dedicated to the education of some of our nation's most disadvantaged children, but they're becoming just the opposite very rapidly through education and with the help of the school choice programs."
Trump was joined by his new secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, and Florida Senator and former opponent Marco Rubio.
Teachers unions criticized the president for the visit, saying it showed hostility toward public schools.
This is VOA news.
The U.N. Special Envoy for Syria concluded a marathon of what he called "tough but constructive" talks in Geneva Friday.
With an agreement from the conflicting parties to pursue further talks on a political transition to end the war.
Speaking to reporters after a long day of meetings, Staffan de Mistura said the parties had agreed to return later this month to discuss four key issues: governance, a draft constitution, elections and counter-terrorism.
"At the beginning of this period of round of talks, we said that we were not going to expect and we should not expect a breakthrough. This is a war of six years where people were not even looking at each other. They were just fighting at each other."
Meanwhile in Syria, army units were clearing [landmine] landmines, that is, an explosive left behind by Islamic State militants in the historic town of Palmyra. That came after government troops and allied militiamen recaptured that town from the extremists.
The U.N. says that more than 190,000 people - about half of them children - have fled Mosul since Iraqi government forces began their offensive on October 17. Lisa Schlein reports from Geneva.
The United Nations reports a significant increase in the number of people fleeing western Mosul last week as fighting between Iraqi soldiers and Islamic State militants has intensified. It estimates about 30,000 people have become displaced, half of them children.
Bastien Vigneau is U.N. Children's Fund Emergency Coordinator for Mosul operations in Iraq. Vigneau says the new arrivals describe conditions in Mosul as dire and getting worse. He says they report that one kilo of rice costs $60. They say food, water, medicine and fuel are running low.
Vigneau says UNICEF, the World Food Program and the U.N. Population Fund are planning an aid mission to west Mosul this weekend.
For security reasons, he says he will not name the neighborhoods where they will go.
Lisa Schlein, for VOA news, Geneva.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday that Tunisia had agreed to take back 1,500 rejected Tunisian migrants from Germany after an attack by a Tunisian national on a Christmas market in Berlin killed 12 people.
Merkel told Tunisia she wanted to speed up repatriation of failed asylum seekers after Islamic State supporter Anis Amri drove a truck through the market in December.
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen says improvements in employment and rising inflation mean an interest rate increase will "likely be appropriate" later this month.
The Fed raised rates just twice in the past decade.
For more on these stories, log on to our website voanews.com. I'm David Byrd in Washington.
That's the latest world news from VOA.
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