January 3, 2019
News. I’m Christopher Cruise reporting.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is demanding information from Russia on the arrest of 48-year-old Paul Whelan, an American citizen being held in Russia on espionage charges.
Whelan was in Moscow to attend a friend’s wedding but he was arrested December 28.
Pompeo spoke about Whelan on Wednesday in Brazil.
“We have made clear to the Russians our expectation that we will learn more about the charges, come to understand what it is he’s been accused of and if the detention is not appropriate, we will demand his immediate return.”
On Wednesday, Russia’s Foreign Ministry says it had allowed consular access to Whelan, who is the director of global security at BorgWarner, an American automotive parts supplier.
Chinese President Xi Jinping says the self-governed island of Taiwan should abandon any thoughts of independence and accept that it is part of China.
In a speech on Wednesday, he reaffirmed his nation’s long-standing Taiwan policy.
He said Beijing is open to creating what he called a vast “space for peaceful reunification” with Taiwan, which would occur, he said, under a “one country, two systems” framework. But he warned that China will not allow any sort of “separatist activities,” and repeated the threat to use military action if necessary to achieve reunification.
President Trump making his first extended comments about Jim Mattis’s departure from the Pentagon.
Mattis announced his resignation nearly two weeks ago after the president said he would pull U.S. troops out of Syria. The president sees it differently.
“President Obama fired him, and essentially so did I.
Mattis said he would stay on until the end of February but the president pushed him out three days later. Today, he told reporters he wasn’t happy with Mattis’s work, especially in Afghanistan.
“What’s he done for me?”
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On his first full day as acting U.S. defense secretary Wednesday, Pat Shanahan said that China would be the military’s top priority.
Shanahan told Defense Department’s staff members at a meeting Wednesday to remember “China, China, China.”
One defense official said Shanahan indicated he would adhere to the military strategy developed by his predecessor, Jim Mattis, who considered China and Russia as great power competitors.
President Trump met Wednesday afternoon at the White House with leaders of both parties in Congress. The meeting took place on day 12 of the partial government shutdown.
Mr. Trump said Wednesday he received a letter from the North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un and will likely meet with him in the near future.
“I just got a great letter from Kim Jong Un. And those few people that I’ve shown this letter to – they’ve never written letters like that. This is a great letter. We’ve made a lot of progress with North Korea and Kim Jong Un. Chairman Kim has been, we’ve had a, we’ve really established a very good relationship. A lot of good things are happening. I never said speed. Look it’s been this way for 80 plus years. We had our meeting six months ago in Singapore. We’ll probably now have another meeting. He’d like to meet. I’d like to meet.”
American Catholic bishops are beginning a prayer retreat on sexual abuse.
Associated Press correspondent Walter Ratliff reports.
U.S.-based Roman Catholic bishops are gathering at a seminary near Chicago for a weeklong retreat on the church sexual abuse scandal organizers say will focus on prayer and spiritual reflection and not formulating policy.
It also serves as a prelude to the summit of the world’s bishops at the Vatican next month to forge a comprehensive response to the crisis that has riven the church.
The meetings follow two blistering reports this year from state attorneys general in Illinois and Pennsylvania alleging negligence by state church leaders.
A Red Cross official says hundreds of refugees have crossed into Uganda from Congo in the aftermath of that country’s presidential election, heightening concerns about the possible cross-border spread of Ebola.
A spokeswoman for the Red Cross in Uganda said Wednesday that the influx started the day after Sunday’s vote and since then dozens have been arriving at a time.
She said some Congolese trying to cross the border were forced back after resisting the efforts of Ugandan health officials who are screening people for Ebola.
Congo’s government cited Ebola in the country’s northeast for a contentious decision to bar an estimated 1 million voters from the December 30 election.
Nearly 600 Ebola cases have been reported, more than 350 confirmed deaths since August.
You can find more on these and other late breaking and developing stories, from around the world, around the clock, at voanews.com and on the VOA news mobile app. I’m Christopher Cruise, VOA news.