May 29, 2017

From Washington, this is VOA news. I'm Steve Norman reporting.

In an unprecedented move, a Group of Seven summit communique has carved out a unique place for the United States to break with its counterparts on a major issue of climate change and the Paris accord signed two years ago by President Obama.

Representing Canada at the G-7 summit in Sicily was Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. "We listened to each other. We engaged robustly and it is explicitly written in the communique that we respect President Trump's choice to reflect further on their engagement around the climate change and the Paris accord."

Environmental groups immediately expressed disappointment with the American stance.

As residents of Manchester, England, try to enjoy a holiday weekend, a group of local bands have drawn 50,000 fans to the city's first big music event since Monday's suicide bombing at the Manchester Arena.

A 22-year-old Manchester citizen blew himself up, killing 22 others, leaving more than 100 wounded, including many children.

Numerous people have been detained in connection with what's being called a terrorist act.

The bombing followed a concert by singer Ariana Grande, who said she will be returning to Manchester to do a benefit show soon to raise money for the victims and their families.

Monitors are saying that hundreds of Syrian civilians were fleeing two jihadist-occupied towns near the Iraqi border after a series of airstrikes targeted buildings sheltering extremist fighters and their families.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says at least 80 relatives of Islamic State fighters were killed.

This is VOA news.

Maritime rescues of migrants adrift in the Mediterranean have continued unabated, with Spanish officials assisting more than 150 refugees in small boats and Tunisian security forces pulling more than 100 others to safety, including seven pregnant women and three children.

The latest tally of rescued African migrants seeking a better life in Europe came as Libyan and Italian officials said about 10,000 migrants had been rescued off the coast of Libya this week. The French news agency quotes authorities as saying at least 54 people had drowned.

Asked about reports that President Trump's son-in-law had tried to set up a clandestine communication channel with Russia before the president took office, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster said Saturday that so-called "back-channeling" was normal.

"We have back-channel communications with any number of countries. So generally speaking, about back-channel communications, what that allows you to do is to communicate in a discreet manner. So it doesn't pre-expose you to any sort of content or any kind of conversation or anything. So no, we're not concerned about it."

McMaster's comments came on a heels of The Washington Post reporting that Jared Kushner had discussed with Russia's ambassador to Washington the possibility of setting up a communications secret channel between the Trump transition team and the Kremlin.

President Trump has repeatedly denied any collusion between his campaign and Russia amid accusations from U.S. intelligence agencies that Russian President Vladimir Putin orchestrated a sweeping campaign to tilt the vote in [Trump's] Mr. Trump's favor.

Zbigniew Brzezinski, who helped topple economic barriers between the Soviet Union, China and the West as U.S. President Jimmy Carter's national security adviser, has died. He was 89.

His death (was) announced by his daughter, MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski. She called him "the most inspiring, loving and devoted father any girl could ever have."

Not long ago, Brzezinski spoke before the Washington thinktank, the Atlantic Council. "I do feel strongly that we live in an age in which freedom is in fact the destiny of the future. We live in an age in which for the first time in all human history the vast majority of mankind is politically awakened."

In recent years, Brzezinski had devoted his efforts to bring the former Soviet republics into NATO.

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