December 1, 2018

This is VOA news. I'm David Byrd in Washington.

The leaders of the United States, Mexico and Canada signed a new North American trade deal Friday, underpinning $1.2 trillion in annual commerce among the three countries.

The pact will lock in U.S. market access to Canada and Mexico, expand American exports and includes new measures to ensure fair competition.

President Donald Trump told VOA contributor Greta Van Susteren that the deal is good for everyone concerned.

"I think one of the strongest elements of the new, you know, and I call it the USMCA - one of the really important things is you won't see companies leaving once that gets signed. We have to get it through Congress and if it gets through, which I think it will, that'll be great, and if it doesn't we're very happy the way it is now."

The so-called USMCA replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement, a pact that Trump roundly criticized during his 2016 presidential campaign, calling it the worst trade deal in history.

The new pact has to be ratified by the legislatures of all the countries concerned.

Meanwhile, U.S. President Donald Trump says he has no plans to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the G-20 summit in Argentina.

Earlier reports from the Kremlin said there might be a pull-aside meeting between the two leaders. However, Trump told VOA contributor Greta Van Susteren that while he will eventually meet with Putin, he has no plans to do so this week.

"Well I just said that, you know, frankly in light of what happened with Ukraine with the ships and the sailors, it just wouldn't be the right time."

Trump canceled a planned two-hour meeting with Putin at the summit after Russian ships intercepted Ukrainian ships in the Black Sea and took their crews captive last Sunday.

For more, visit our website. This is VOA news.

European participants are trying to put up a united front at the G-20 summit in Argentina amid concern that President Donald Trump is using it to advance his own goals via bilateral meetings.

AP correspondent Ben Thomas reports.

Trade has been at the top of President Trump's agenda at the G-20 summit from the joint signing this morning of the new trade agreement with Mexico and Canada to an afternoon session with the prime ministers of Japan and India.

But European officials complain that behind the scenes, the U.S. is blocking progress on world trade rules, climate and migration.

A French official says the summit's final statement may have language that sets the U.S. apart, saying for instance 19 of the G-20 countries agree on the importance of upholding the Paris climate accord, but the U.S. doesn't.

I'm Ben Thomas.

A massive earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale struck Alaska, Friday rocking buildings, shattering roads and sending residents running into the streets.

As AP's Ed Donahue reports, the first quake was followed by a large aftershock.

The city of Ed Donahue felt the quake.

"Sorry, it's still shaking up here."

??? at City Diner says he is used to earthquakes. "Usually I just keep walking and feel it fun."

The quake threw a full grown man out of his bathtub.

Anchorage's police chief says he was told parts of a scenic highway that heads toward mountains and glaciers have sunken and "completely disappeared."

The fire chief, Jodie Hettrick, says people need to check for damage. "If you can see the walls or the whole, your house looks like it's leaning ??? a little bit, that's probably not a good idea to stay."

President Trump says the federal government will spare no expense helping Alaska, saying, "You have been hit hard by a 'big one.'"

I'm Ed Donahue.

The World Health Organization says polio remains a public health emergency. As Lisa Schlein reports for VOA, it's concerned that its global spread remains high.

On the surface, it does not appear that polio poses an international threat. However, the chair of the WHO's emergency committee, Helen Rees, says every available health strategy must be used to prevent the wild polio virus from spreading across borders.

"The fear is that we might well see a resurgence, that we could see exportation again and a reversal of all of the work and all of the country global efforts that have gone into trying to eradicate polio. And we certainly cannot allow that to happen."

The director of WHO's polio eradication program, Michel Zaffran, notes the wild polio virus has not been seen in Nigeria since it was last detected more than two years ago.

Lisa Schlein, for VOA news, Geneva.

For more on these stories, be sure to visit our website voanews.com. I'm David Byrd, VOA news.