VOA NEWS IN STANDARD ENGLISH

May 27, 2013


Now the news from the Voice of America. Syria's rebels continue unification talks. Huge protest in France against new gay marriage law. I'm Christopher Cruise reporting from Washington.

Syria's main opposition coalition held an unplanned fourth day of meeting Sunday in Turkey. Syrian opposition sources said resolving leadership and membership issues would allow the coalition to respond to a plan put forth by the United States and Russia. They want a peace conference in Geneva, Switzerland, next month.

American Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are to meet privately in Paris Monday to talk about how to move forward with the peace conference.

Two rockets hit Lebanon's capital Sunday. Four people were hurt. The attacks came a day after the leader of Hezbollah admitted the group is working inside Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad and against the rebels.

It's not clear who fired the rockets into the Hezbollah-controlled areas. They landed in a car dealership and a residential building. Edward Yeranian reports.

Rockets fired by unknown assailants exploded Sunday in the southern fringes of the Lebanese capital, Beirut, in areas considered a stronghold of the Shiite militant group Hezbollah.

Supporters and opponents of embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad appeared to capitalize on the attack to take aim at their adversaries. A senior member of Hezbollah, Hashim Safieddin, demanded the Lebanese government find who fired the rockets.

He calls the attackers cowards and insists it is the Lebanese government's responsibility to find out who is funding, supporting, and training those who carried out the attack.

Edward Yeranian for VOA news, Cairo.

Israeli President Shimon Peres says it is possible for Israelis and Palestinians to overcome their differences and make peace.

He spoke Sunday at the World Economic Forum in Jordan. Last week, Secretary of State Kerry met separately with Israeli and Palestinian officials urging them to drop all preconditions and restart peace negotiations, which have made little progress over the past four years.

African leaders still tried to figure out how to bring lasting peace to the Democratic Republic of Congo. They talked about the challenge Sunday at the African Union's summit in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

Foreign ministers of the group's member countries and the AU Executive Council also agreed to ask the International Criminal Court to send charges of election violence against Kenya's president back to Kenya's courts.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto are facing separate charges of causing the violence that followed the election in 2007.

The proposal to move the case back to Kenya has support among many African leaders who feel the ICC process unfairly targets Africans.

Tens of thousands of protesters marched through Paris on Sunday, protesting the country's recently approved same-sex marriage law. Police said there were 150,000 protesters. Organizers of the march said there were one million.

The march was generally peaceful although about a hundred demonstrators who fought with riot police were arrested.

Sunday's march targeted President François Hollande and his Socialist government as much as it did gay marriage. One group of protesters hung a banner outside Socialist Party headquarters, demanding Mr Hollande's resignation.

Public opinion studies show most people in France support the right of same-sex couples to marry.

President Obama on Sunday saw the damage caused by a tornado last week in the Midwestern state of Oklahoma. He met with people in Moore, a town near Oklahoma City, where 24 people were killed and 377 were injured.

"This is a strong community, with strong character. There is no doubt they are going to bounce back, but they need help. Just like any of us would need help if we saw the kind of devastation that we are seeing here."

The president spoke next to a destroyed elementary school. Ten of those killed were children, including seven students, who were in that school when the storm hit.

Monday's tornado was an EF-5. That's the strongest tornado measurement--winds stronger than 322 kilometers per hour. The tornado destroyed schools, neighborhoods and the hospital in the town along with 12,000 homes. Some people lost everything they owned. The storm damage estimated to be around $2-billion.

That's the news at this hour. For more on these and other stories anytime from around the world around the clock, go to voanews.com. I'm Christopher Cruise, VOA news, Washington.