August 2, 2017

From Washington, this is VOA news. Hello, I'm Steve Miller.

The White House says it is holding Venezuelan President Nicholás Maduro "personally responsible" for the safety of two opposition leaders seized by police in the middle of the night.

Ravina Shamdasani, the spokesperson for the U.N. High Commissioner [on] for Human Rights, called on Venezuela to respect the rights of its citizens.

"The high commissioner is calling on Venezuelan authorities to ensure that all those whose who have been detained for the exercise of their human rights, to peaceful assembly, to the freedom of expression, to the freedom of association, to be promptly released."

The families of Leopoldo López and Antonio Ledezma say the two men were taken early Tuesday by agents with the Venezuelan intelligence service, Sebin.

On Monday, U.S. President Donald Trump promised the threat posed by North Korea will be dealt with. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson once more called upon China to use its influence over North Korea to curb North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's nuclear and missile programs.

"The Chinese have been very clear with us that we share the same objective, a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. They do not see it in their interest for North Korea to have nuclear weapons, just as we do not see it in anyone's interest. China has ways that they can put pressure on and influence the North Korean regime because of this significant economic relationship that no one else has."

Tillerson added that the United States does not blame China for the situation, but that Beijing may be able to facilitate the conditions necessary for productive discussions.

An Afghan hospital official says an explosion inside a minority Shiite mosque in western Herat on the border with Iran has killed at least 29 people. At least 64 reported as being wounded, 10 in critical condition.

This is VOA news.

U.S. President Donald Trump took part in drafting a statement issued in his son's name last month about a meeting that Donald Trump Jr. and other Trump campaign officials had with a Russian attorney, the White House said on Tuesday.

However, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the president did not dictate the content of the statement, which within days turned out to be misleading.

"The president weighed in as any father would based on the limited information that he had. This is all discussion, frankly, of no consequence. There was no follow up. It was disclosed to the proper parties, which is how The New York Times found out about it to begin with."

The younger Trump has since said the meeting with Veselnitskaya produced no incriminating information about Democratic contender Hillary Clinton, and that their conversation 13 months ago turned toward Moscow's complaints about U.S. sanctions, as well as the Russian government's subsequent ban on the adoption of Russian children by Americans.

Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has taken the oath of office on Tuesday as Pakistan's new prime minister to replace ousted Nawaz Sharif. Mary Motta has the story.

The 58-year-old Abbasi is a staunch Sharif ally and senior member of his ruling PML-N party.

Earlier in the day, Abbasi won 221 votes in the 342-member legislative lower house of parliament, which is dominated by PML-N and its allied parties.

His closest rival, Syed Naveed Qamar, from the opposition Pakistan People's Party, secured 47 votes.

Pakistan was plunged into political uncertainty Friday when a five-member panel of the Supreme Court disqualified Sharif from holding public office. Sharif has denied wrongdoing.

Mary Motta, VOA news, Washington.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence says President Donald Trump will sign a bill on new package of sanctions against Russia.

Pence is visiting the former Soviet Republic of Georgia and says that the United States respects Georgia's territory.

"The United States will continue to support Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders. The United States of America under President Donald will reject any claim, at any time, by any nation that undermines this enduring principle."

Al-Shabaab's shadow governor for the Somali capital of Mogadishu was killed in a U.S. airstrike late Saturday.

No civilians were reported being killed.

Ali Mohamed Hussein, who was also known as Ali Jabal, was known for forcing Mogadishu businesses to donate money to the Islamist militants.

For updates and in-depth coverage to these stories and more, 24 hours a day, point your web browser to voanews.com. From Washington, I'm Steve Miller.

That's the latest world news from VOA.