2017-4-25 15:59




April 25, 2017

From Washington, this is VOA news. I'm Jee Abbey Lee reporting.

One day after French voters put her in a presidential runoff with centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron, nationalist anti-immigration candidate Marine Le Pen has announced that she is temporarily stepping down as a leader of her party so she can run as a candidate for all the French.

In a move aimed at broadening her appeal, Le Pen said on French public television, "Tonight, I am no longer the president of the National Front. I'm the presidential candidate," adding that she wants to be above "partisan considerations."

In what analysts describe as a political earthquake in France, Le Pen received 21.5 percent of the French presidential vote while Macron garnered 23.8 percent of the vote.

A winner needs an absolute majority so a second round will be held in May 7.

It's the first time in the history of the modern French Republic that the presidency will be held by a member of a non-traditional party, highlighting a deep anti-establishment sentiment that ultimately could determine whether France remains a part of the EU or follows an independent path like that of post-Brexit Britain and the United States under Donald Trump.

Former U.S. President Barack Obama returned to public life Monday, urging young people in his adopted hometown of Chicago to be activists in their communities, much like he was before running for political office.

On a sunny spring morning at the University of Chicago campus, Obama told an audience that as a community organizer three decades ago in Chicago, he learned that "ordinary people when working together can do extraordinary things," a lesson that stayed with him.

The 44th U.S. president moderated a panel of young people made up of a high school senior, college students and recent graduates working in their fields of study.

This is VOA news.

Top officials in the Trump administration will hold the rare classified briefing at the White House. The briefing is for the entire U.S. Senate on the situation in North Korea.

Officials say Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joe Dunford will conduct the briefing Wednesday.

All 100 [seniors] senators have been asked to the White House for the meeting.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis arrived in Afghanistan on a previously unannounced visit. The trip is to discuss the country's security situation with political and military leaders.

He was asked by a reporter if he was comfortable with the current stalemate and this what he said: "Frankly, I don't see any tension between those two things, those two factors. Right now, we're engaged in defining the challenge, the way ahead, with a whole lot of nations. And it depends -- there's no one nation that's going to carry all this, so there's a lot of collaboration. And that is based on an assessment of the tactical and operational challenge and where we want to be in what time." :Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

U.S. President Donald Trump is facing Democratic opposition as he makes a new push for construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border to thwart illegal immigration.

He says he believes estimates of the cost are vastly overblown.

Funding for the controversial barrier is at the forefront of the White House discussions with lawmakers to avert a partial government shutdown at the end of the week.

U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly spoke of the need for the wall. "We have tremendous threats, whether it's drugs, people, potential terrorists coming up from the south, and some type of a barrier, an effective barrier backed up by the brave and very effective men and women of DHS, I believe is essential." :Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, or OSCE, has identified a U.S. monitor killed in a (land)mine blast in eastern Ukraine as Joseph Stone.

Joseph Stone, an American paramedic, was traveling in a car that hit a mine near rebel-held Luhansk Sunday. Two other monitors were injured in the incident.

The OSCE monitoring mission in Ukraine wrote on Twitter the injured monitors are in stable condition.

I'm Jee Abbey Lee in Washington.

That's the latest world news from VOA.

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