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Updated: 36 min 18 sec ago

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

1 hour 21 min ago
The United Nations Children’s Fund is voicing concern about the decision by Australia to transfer asylum seekers detained on the Pacific Island of Nauru to Cambodia, possibly as early as Monday. UNICEF’s concerns come amid growing refugee protests in Nauru and protests over transfers of families in Darwin to Nauru early Saturday. The first group of refugees seeking asylum in Australia could be sent to Cambodia in the coming days, under a deal reached by the countries last year. The...

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

1 hour 31 min ago
India, long one of the world’s biggest arms importers, wants to expand its own weapons industry and become a supplier to other nations. It’s a move the United States supports for economic and strategic reasons. But industry analysts who spoke to VOA believe that, despite some positive signs, India’s reliance on arms imports is unlikely to change anytime soon. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently pointed out that India imports nearly 60 percent of its defense needs. Over the...

Iraqi Forces Retake Most of Baiji Refinery

1 hour 52 min ago
Iraqi forces retook most of the country's largest refinery from Islamic State on Saturday, security officials said, reversing gains by the militants who seized parts of the sprawling complex this week. The insurgents attacked Iraq's Baiji refinery a week ago by blasting through the security perimeter around it and taking over several installations, including storage tanks. A spokesman for Iraq's counterterrorism forces told Reuters troops protecting the refinery had now...

President Ghani: IS Militants Claim Afghan Suicide Blast

2 hours 24 min ago
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani says the Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing Saturday that killed at least 33 people in eastern Afghanistan. Officials say more than 100 other people were wounded in the attack in Jalalabad. President Ghani called the incident "horrific," as he announced Islamic State militants had taken credit. He referred to the group as "Daesh" — an acronym for its name in Arabic. The Taliban had earlier denied...

Israel to Transfer Frozen Tax Funds to Palestinians

3 hours 37 sec ago
Israel said on Saturday it would transfer $470 million of withheld tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority following talks between a senior Israeli military officer and Palestinian officials. In December, Israel began withholding around $130 million per month of taxes it collects on behalf of the Palestinians after the Palestinian Authority announced it was joining the International Criminal Court (ICC). Israel had condemned the Palestinian move to join the ICC, saying it was a...

Putin 'Ready to Work with US'

3 hours 31 min ago
Russia has key interests in common with the United States and needs to work with it on a common agenda, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday in a television interview. In his comments to the state-run Rossiya channel, Putin appeared to soften his anti-American rhetoric after being highly critical. Relations between Moscow and Washington and other Western powers have soured over the conflict in Russia's neighbor Ukraine, sinking to an all-time low. "We have...

Gunfire, Explosions Heard in Libyan Capital

3 hours 38 min ago
Clashes broke out in a district and a suburb of Libya's capital on Saturday, home to groups opposing an alternative government controlling Tripoli and parts of western Libya, residents said. The North African country is in the midst of a conflict between two governments and parliaments allied to armed groups fighting for power and territory four years after the ousting of Moammer Gadhafi. Gunfire and explosions could be heard since early morning in the central Fashloum district and...

Earth Day Concert, Rally in Washington

4 hours 14 min ago
An Earth Day rally and concert are being held on Washington's National Mall Saturday.  Headliners at Saturday's festivities — hosted by and Soledad O'Brien — include Mary J. Blige, Fall Out Boy, No Doubt, Usher, Train, and My Morning Jacket. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, actor Don Cheadle and Coldplay's Chris Martin are expected to speak to the estimated hundreds of thousands of attendees. The concert...

Anti-immigrant Violence in South Africa Spreads

4 hours 16 min ago
Mobs in South Africa attacked shops owned by immigrants in a poor area of Johannesburg early Saturday following similar violence in another part of the country that killed six people, according to media reports.   There was a heavy police presence in Alexandra township after rioters looted some shops, burned tires and built street barricades overnight. The report says police fired rubber bullets in an attempt to stop the unrest, news outlet eNCA reported.   Several shops and...

Iran, Saudis on Collision Course over Yemen

5 hours 49 min ago
Tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia continued to escalate Saturday, with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani slamming Saudi-led airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. "You planted the seeds of hatred in the hearts" of people in the region, said Rouhani at Iran's National Army Day ceremony, in comments directed at Saudi Arabia. "And you will see the response sooner or later," he added. Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei previously called the...

Afghan Military Chief, in Pakistan, Urges Increased Cooperation

6 hours 15 min ago
Hours after a suicide bomber in Jalalabad, Afghanistan killed at least 33 people and wounded scores of others, Afghan's military chief, in an unprecedented speech in neighboring Pakistan, called for both nations to redouble counterterrorism efforts. The bloodshed in Afghanistan occurred on a day when its army chief, General Sher Mohammad Karimi, addressed a graduation parade of army cadets in neighboring Pakistan. This was the first time an Afghan military leader had been invited to...

Afghanistan Suicide Blast Kills 35, Wounds More Than 100

10 hours 45 min ago
The U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan has condemned a suicide bombing  Saturday that killed 35 people and wounded more than 100 others. In a statement, UNAMA said the continuing use of suicide attacks in densely populated areas may amount to a war crime.  The statement called for immediate accountability for those responsible.   The police chief of the province of Nangarhar, Fazal Ahmad Shirzad, told reporters that the attack occurred Saturday outside a bank in the...

US Urges Greece to Work Out Details

Fri, 2015-04-17 20:58
U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has urged Greece to go through "every line" in its budget to draft a reform plan to satisfy its international creditors. Lew, speaking in Washington Friday, said he believes that is the level of detail required. "This isn't resolved by speeches; it isn't resolved by rhetoric. It's resolved by the hard technical work,'' he added. He said after meeting with finance ministers, including Greece's Yanis Varoufakis, that...

Surprise Hungarian Combo Creates World of Shifting Rhythm

Fri, 2015-04-17 20:35
It sounds like the musical equivalent of Hungarian goulash: Take the gypsy fiddles of a leading folk band, blend them with the drums, bells and xylophones of the country's top percussion ensemble, then stir and season to taste. No one knew quite what to expect from the first joint concert of folk group Muzsikas and globe-trotting rhythm specialists Amadinda, but Thursday night's outing at the Budapest Palace of Culture turned out to be a spicy musical treat. Both groups have...

India Builds First 'Smart' City as Urban Population Swells

Fri, 2015-04-17 20:20
India's push to accommodate a booming urban population and attract investment rests in large part with dozens of “smart” cities like the one being built on the dusty banks of the Sabarmati River in western India. So far, it boasts modern underground infrastructure, two office blocks and not much else. The plan, however, is for a meticulously planned metropolis complete with gleaming towers, drinking water on tap, automated waste collection and a dedicated power supply — luxuries to...

US Envoy Hails India's Decision to Taper Use of Greenhouse Gas

Fri, 2015-04-17 20:19
India's surprise decision to agree to phase down the use of a potent greenhouse gas after years of opposition is a "significant step'' toward global action to address climate change, the U.S. State Department's climate change envoy said Friday. India on Thursday proposed an amendment to the United Nations' Montreal Protocol, which calls on countries to phase out their use of HFCs — gases used in refrigerators, air conditioners and insulating foams that are a...

African Cocoa a Golden Ticket for Tanzania Chocolate Factory

Fri, 2015-04-17 20:04
Jaki Kweka is that rare breed of gourmet chocolatier. She makes fine chocolate in Africa using local African ingredients. Other African companies such as Ghana's Golden Tree use local cocoa but import milk powder and sugar. Multinationals such as Nestle mass-produce chocolate in South Africa for the continent's consumers and source ingredients globally. But few firms match Kweka's ideal — she uses Tanzanian beans and local sugar to make organic chocolate that is 100 percent...

Better Lives Sought for Larimar Miners in Dominican Republic

Fri, 2015-04-17 20:00
The men in ragged clothes, many barefoot and covered in grime, scramble deep into the earth, searching for veins of a blue-green stone believed to exist only in the southwestern mountains of the Dominican Republic.   The stone is larimar, and its existence under these wooded slopes has been both a boon and a curse for men such as Juan Pablo Feliz, who says there is no other work in the impoverished region. Few strike it rich, but the gem has provided modest incomes for about 1,000...

Fast Track Trade Bill Opens Economic, Political Divisions

Fri, 2015-04-17 20:00
U.S. lawmakers agreed on draft legislation this week to give the White House “fast track” authority to negotiate a free trade deal with Pacific nations. If approved, the bill gives lawmakers the authority to set trade objectives, but limits their ability to make changes once agreement is reached. Trade officials say the bill would help President Barack Obama realize his so called “Asia pivot,” but as Mil Arcega reports, it also sets the stage for economic and political divisions at home.

Seoul Official Expresses Hope for Improved Inter-Korean Ties

Fri, 2015-04-17 19:23
South Korea’s point man on North Korea said Friday that he expected to see progress in inter-Korean relations soon. South Korean Unification Minister Hong Yong-pyo told reporters his government would enhance efforts to improve ties with Pyongyang. “We need to make more efforts, and North Korea needs to show a more positive attitude to achieve substantial progress [in inter-Korean relations],” said Hong. Hong advised South Korean President Park Geun-hye on Seoul’s policy on Pyongyang...

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