April 17, 2017
From Washington, this is VOA news. I'm Jee Abbey Lee reporting.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is stressing the strength of the American alliance with South Korea hours after the latest failed missile test by Pyongyang.
"This is a challenging time, all over the world but especially here in the Asia-Pacific. The opportunity for me to be here today at such a time as this is a great, a privilege for me. But let me assure you, under President Trump's leadership our resolve has never been stronger. Our commitment to this historic alliance with the courageous people of South Korea has never been stronger. And with your help, and with God's help, freedom will ever prevail."
Pence's mission on his first trip to South Korea is to explain leaders in Japan, Indonesia, Australia and South Korea about a policy called "maximum pressure and engagement" aimed at increasing pressure on the North Korean regime.
The failed missile launch from North Korea's port city of Sinpo came a day after a massive military parade in the North Korean capital that amounted to a show of force by Pyongyang.
Turkey's ruling party has claimed victory in a referendum granting broad new powers to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
With preliminary vote tally is completed and celebrations erupting in Istanbul, Erdoğan told cheering supporters that the "yes" camp had secured 25 million votes - 1.3 million more than those cast by opponents of the sweeping changes. He also said the referendum had ended Turkey's decades-long history of military intervention in government.
The yes vote means the Turkish parliament will largely be sidelined.
This is VOA news.
The United States is calling on Russia and Pakistan not to support the Taliban in their bid to "perpetuate the war" in Afghanistan.
U.S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster made the remarks Sunday after talks with Afghan leaders on his first trip to Kabul since taking office.
"As all of us have hoped for many many years, we have hoped that Pakistani leaders will understand that it is in their interest to go after these groups less selectively than they have in the past, and the best way to pursue their interests in Afghanistan and elsewhere is through diplomacy, not through the use of proxies that engage in violence."
Afghan officials said the discussions focused on bilateral security matters, fighting regional terrorism and strengthening the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, or ANDSF.
McMaster's visit follows calls by U.S. military commanders for adding "a few thousand" more troops to the roughly 8,400 American troops already in Afghanistan.
Christians around the world are celebrating Easter - the day they believe Jesus rose from the dead.
Throngs of the faithful showed up at the Vatican's flower-filled Saint Peter's Square for Pope Francis' celebration of Easter Sunday Mass.
Pope Francis denounced how migrants, the poor and the marginalized are treated. He said they see their "human dignity crucified" every day through injustice and corruption.
Over in Jerusalem, masses of different denominations of both western and eastern Christians coexisted in the same holy space. VOA's Robert Berger reports.
Easter dawned in Jerusalem with a sunrise service at the Garden Tomb, where worshipers sang hymns of the resurrection. The setting is biblical. The scriptures say Jesus was buried in a garden and facing an ancient empty Tomb carved into a rock. The congregation proclaimed that "The Lord is risen!"
Pilgrims came from all over the world, including Travis Cullimore from San Francisco in the United States.
"Being here where Christ was caused me to strengthen my faith."
The Old City was also packed with Jewish pilgrims celebrating the week-long biblical holiday of Passover.
Robert Berger, for VOA news, Jerusalem.
Iraqi forces are accusing Islamic State of using chemical weapons in the fight to fully retake the city of Mosul from IS fighters.
An Iraqi military statement says the Islamic State fighters tried to block the advance for the Iraqi forces by using shells filled with chemical material.
I'm Jee Abbey Lee in Washington.
That's the latest world news from VOA.
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