May 31, 2017

From Washington, this is VOA news. I'm Tommie McNeil reporting.

President Trump's communications director Mike Dubke has resigned. The president accepted the resignation immediately. Dubke had only been on the job for a little over three months.

This comes as the Trump administration faces investigations into whether it had links to Russia, including reports that Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and a senior White House adviser, attempted to establish a back-channel communications link to Russian officials in the weeks before Mr. Trump's inauguration.

U.S. Senator John McCain said Monday he views Russia and its president Vladimir Putin as the "greatest challenge we have" beyond even that posed by the Islamic State terrorist group.

During a visit to Australia, McCain told an Australian broadcasting company Putin has trying to "destroy the very fundamental of democracy" with efforts to influence the U.S. presidential election.

"I've seen no evidence they succeeded. But they tried, and they are still trying, they are still trying to change elections. They just tried to affect the outcome of the French elections."

The White House is bracing for the upcoming congressional testimony of former FBI chief James Comey. Mr. Trump fired Comey after allegedly asking him to drop the probe into former national security adviser Michael Flynn and his close ties to the Kremlin.

Mr. Trump has rejected any allegations that his campaign colluded with Russia.

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for a car bomb explosion in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, which has killed at least 13 people, wounded [14] 24 others. It occurred just outside a popular ice cream shop and apparently involved remotely detonated explosives inside a car.

The bombing late Monday comes just three days into the holy month of Ramadan when Muslims flock cafes and restaurants after a day of fasting.

This is VOA news.

While hosting his Russian counterpart, President Vladimir Putin, France's new president, Emmanuel Macron, criticized Russian media outlets for efforts to influence the French presidential election. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports.

The French president also criticized Russia's military interventions in Syria and eastern Ukraine.

For his part, Putin called for an end to Western sanctions against Russia. "I appeal to you as well as to the representatives of French media. You should fight for the lifting of all restrictions in the global economy. Only the lifting of all restrictions to free market and free competition, fair and free of political interests and opportunistic instruments can help the development of the world economy, contribute to fight unemployment and increase the quality of life for our citizens."

Russia has been under international sanctions for its illegal annexation of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula in 2014 and its military support for Russian-speaking separatists in eastern Ukraine.

In Syria, Russia supports the government of President Bashar al-Assad in his bloody campaign to subdue the opposition.

Zlatica Hoke, VOA new, Washington.

A tropical storm made landfall Tuesday in southeastern Bangladesh, killing two people and destroying thousands of homes.

Authorities said the deaths were the result of [a tree] trees that fell in the heavy winds and rain.

Before the storm, authorities evacuated about 300,000 people to shelters.

North Korea said Tuesday its latest missile launch was successful and hit a planned target point with deviation of seven meters.

South Korea said the latest rocket, the third launch in three weeks, was a Scud-type missile that traveled eastward for about 450 kilometers and fell within Japan's Exclusive Economic Zone.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has supervised the Monday launch, which the KCNA news agency said was controlled by a precision guidance system.

Former Panama dictator Manuel Noriega, whose time in power was marked by corruption and violence, has died at the age of 83.

Noriega had been in the hospital recovering from several surgeries related to removing a brain tumor earlier this year.

Former world number one golfer Tiger Woods said Monday that an "unexpected reaction to prescription medications," and not alcohol, was what led to his arrest in Florida on suspicion of driving under the influence.

Police say Woods was arrested early Monday morning in the city of Jupiter and was released on his own recognizance several hours later.

Woods issued a statement on his website as saying that he apologized and he didn't realize the mix of medications had affected him so strongly.

I'm Tommie McNeil in Washington.

That's the latest world news from VOA.