October 19, 2018

I'm Tommie McNeil.

U.S. President Donald Trump said there will be "severe" consequences if the Saudis did in fact kill a Saudi journalist but did not seem optimistic that Jamal Khashoggi is still alive.

AP correspondent Tim McGuire reports.

President Trump doesn't say what led him to conclude The Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi is dead but he does say it will be bad for the Saudis if they are found to have been involved.

"Well, it'll have to be very severe. I mean, it's bad, bad stuff. But we'll see what happens."

Trump adds he will respond based on the various investigations.

"We're waiting for the results of about three different investigations, and we should be able to get to the bottom fairly soon."

Officials in Turkey say Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul by members of an assassination squad with ties to Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. The Saudis have dismissed those reports.

Tim McGuire, Washington.

Two top officials in southern Afghanistan, including a powerful police commander, General Abdul Raziq, have been killed in a shooting incident during a visit of the top U.S. general in Afghanistan.

American General Scott Miller was unharmed. He was visiting the Kandahar province governor's compound for a meeting with the governor and other provincial officials. Local media said the participants were making their way to a helipad after the meeting when the shooting occurred.

In addition to Raziq, who had survived several previous Taliban attacks on his life, Thursday's assault killed the provincial intelligence chief and badly wounded the Kandahar governor.

The United States is pushing back against claims by Russian President Vladimir Putin that the Islamic State terror group is starting to execute hundreds of hostages in Syria, including U.S. and European nationals.

Putin made the claims Thursday during the forum in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi, saying IS has taken 700 people from a displaced persons camp in an area controlled by U.S.-backed forces.

This is VOA news.

Two top officials in southern Afghanistan, including a police commander, again have been shot and killed. That shooting happened during a visit by the top American there from Kabul.

VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem.

He was also the commander who had put, by some accounts, in the words of some people, fear in the hearts of Taliban, so he had secured Kandahar at the time when other provinces in Afghanistan are facing serious security threats.

And the Taliban has claimed responsibility for that attack. It said an "infiltrator" carried out the attack which it said was aimed at both Raziq and the American general.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is in Brussels for negotiations on exiting the European Union. She said Thursday that now is the time to make a Brexit deal before Britain is scheduled to leave on March 29.

"There is still the question of the Northern Irish backstop. But I believe everybody around the table wants to get a deal. By working intensively and closely, we can achieve that deal. I believe a deal is achievable and now is the time to make it happen."

Negotiations have been hung up on the future border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, as well as Britain's trade relationship with the EU.

U.S. President Trump Thursday threatened a military closure of the U.S. border with Mexico if the neighboring country fails to stop a high-profile group of Central American travelers headed toward the United States.

Repeating a claim he has often made, Mr. Trump labeled some of the migrants as "criminals," and said he would resort to "stopping all payments" to Central American countries if Mexico did not "stop this onslaught" on the U.S.

The president tweeted as a caravan of an estimated 2,000 to 4,000 migrants that began in Honduras was approaching Mexico, with the hope of crossing into the U.S. to escape poverty and violence in the Northern Triangle region.

Prosecutors said Thursday that people linked to the Venezuelan government and Mexican companies conspired to overcharge Venezuela for basic food aid packages.

Known as "CLAP" packages, the food is supposedly subsidized by Venezuela's socialist administration to provide a bare level of subsistence to families facing hunger amid the country's hyperinflation and economic breakdown.

But Mexican prosecutors said an investigation found the Venezuelan officials and Mexican businessmen bought poor quality items in bulk and exported them to Venezuela at more than double their real price.

A American student who supported pro-Palestinian boycott campaigns against Israel will be allowed to study in Israel. The Israeli Supreme Court overturned her deportation order Thursday.

Lawyers representing University of Florida student Laura Alqasem said the decision "is a victory for free speech, academic freedom, and the rule of law."

I'm Tommie McNeil VOA news.