December 30, 2018

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

President Donald Trump and Democrats are trading blame for the partial government shutdown but doing little substantive talking with each other as the disruption in federal services and public employees' pay heads into its second weekend.

Trump brushed off any blame that his administration bore for the recent deaths of two migrant children in Border Patrol custody.

The president said on Twitter the deaths were "strictly the fault of the Democrats and their pathetic immigration policies."

Incoming Democratic Congressman Joe Neguse of Colorado said in a Democratic radio address that the president is the one who forced the partial shutdown.

"Partisanship, rancor and dysfunction of the Trump shutdown is exactly what voters rebuked in November and that is why on January 3, when the new Democratic House majority arrives, we will bring the hope, vision and goals of effective governance back to the forefront."

Trump is demanding $5 billion to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border. Democrats have said he will never get that much and no compromises have been reached.

President Donald Trump also tweeted on Saturday that he had a long and very good phone conversation with China's President Xi Jinping. He said that big progress was made on U.S.-China trade relations.

AP's Shelley Adler reports.

Trump tweets "Deal is moving along very well. If made, it will be very comprehensive, covering all subjects, areas and points of dispute."

The U.S. wants China to address intellectual property theft and other aggressive measures that have driven Beijing's effort to topple U.S. technological dominance.

Shelley Adler, Washington.

For more on these stories, be sure to visit our website voanews.com. You can also follow us on the VOA mobile app. This is VOA news.

Russian and Turkish foreign and defense ministers met in Moscow Saturday to discuss northern Syria even as U.S. forces prepare to withdraw.

AP correspondent ??? has details.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that much of the discussion focused on the pending U.S. withdraw and that Russia and Turkey managed to agree on coordinating their steps in Syria "to ultimately eradicate the terrorist threats."

The Syrian military said it has entered the Kurdish stronghold of Manbij as part of an apparent agreement between the two sides. The Kurds are looking for new allies to protect against a threatened Turkish offensive as U.S. forces prepare to leave.

I'm ???.

Last minute election preparations were underway in the Congolese capital of Kinshasa Saturday ahead of Sunday's presidential vote, which will take place after more than two years of delays. Protests, an opposition outcry and the unexpected barring of one million voters from polling over an Ebola outbreak marked the final days of preparations in the country.

??? is an election observer with the Southern African Development Community.

"Hopefully and we trust that the process will be smooth and that at the end of the day on Sunday, the people of Congo would have exercised their right vote for candidates."

The DRC faces what could be its first peaceful, democratic transfer of power as President Joseph Kabila steps aside.

The World Health Organization says that violent protests in the Democratic Republic of Congo's Kivu Province are hampering efforts to control the spread of the Ebola virus.

Lisa Schlein reports.

WHO spokesman Tarek Jasarevic says an Ebola transit center in Beni was attacked, frightening people waiting for test results and the staff caring for them. He tells VOA the violence is an unfortunate setback to Ebola control efforts, which have been progressing.

"All gains that we have made so far in fighting Ebola in North Kivu are at risk because of this violence."

Latest figures from the DRC Ministry of Health put the number of Ebola cases at 593, including 359 deaths - a fatality rate of 60 percent.

Lisa Schlein, for VOA news, Geneva.

Egyptian authorities say their security forces killed 40 suspected militants in three separate but simultaneous raids Saturday in Giza and North Sinai. The action came one day after three Vietnamese tourists and their Egyptian guide died when their bus was bombed near Giza.

For more, visit our website voanews.com. I'm David Byrd, VOA news.