January 10, 2019

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

President Donald Trump abruptly walked out of a meeting at the White House Wednesday with congressional Democrats as a partial government shutdown heads into its 20th day.

The president met with congressional Republicans at the Capitol and said he would do whatever it takes to get a border wall with Mexico.

Later at the White House, the president abruptly left a meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer when they said they would not pay the nearly $6 billion the president wants for the wall.

"So I said, 'Mr. President, the evidence of what's happening does not support the crisis that you describe and therefore the solution you suggest because we have a better idea of how to keep our country safe.'"

Senate Minority Leader Schumer said the president was not willing to hear any proposals that did not include his border wall.

"... and when Leader Pelosi she said she didn't agree with a wall, he just walked out and said, 'We have nothing to discuss.' So, he said it was a waste of his time."

Later, Vice President Mike Pence said that President Trump is not willing to compromise on border security.

The President made clear today that he is going to stand firm to achieve his priorities to build a wall - a steel barrier - on the southern border, add additional personnel, additional resources, additional reforms to stem the crisis that we face on our southern border."

Eight hundred thousand federal workers remain furloughed or continue to work without pay.

Meanwhile, U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is planning to leave the Justice Department when a new attorney general takes office.

Rosenstein has overseen former FBI director Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election - something that President Trump calls a "witch hunt."

This is VOA news.

Three days of trade talks in Beijing between the United States and China ended Wednesday with the White House expressing optimism.

The U.S. Trade Representative's office gave no details on the talks in Beijing other than saying they are "focused on China's pledge to purchase a substantial amount of agricultural, energy, manufactured goods, and other products and services from the United States."

However, it also said any deal with China must be followed up with ongoing verification and enforcement.

There was no comment from Beijing on the talks.

These were the first direct talks between U.S. and Chinese officials since Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping met in December in Argentina and agreed to a 90-day truce in their ongoing trade war.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made unannounced visits Wednesday to Erbil and Baghdad, reassuring allies amid U.S. plans to withdraw its troops from Syria.

Pompeo met with Iraqi President Barham Salih, Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi and Iraq's Council of Representatives speaker Mohammed al-Halbusi.

"We had a chance to meet with senior leadership of the government of Iraq. We had a great set of conversations. We certainly talked about the president's decision to withdraw from Syria, but we focused more importantly on the enormous important impact of the Iraqi government formation process and how it is we can together ensure that we create better lives and democracy here in Iraq."

Later, the secretary met with Iraqi Kurdish leaders in Erbil and reassured the leaders of the United States' commitment to the region.

Pompeo's weeklong trip to the Middle East comes after President Trump's abrupt announcement last month that he will pull all 2,000 American troops out of Syria, causing alarm among U.S. allies in the region.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his wife MacKenzie are divorcing, ending a 25-year marriage that played a role in the creation of an e-commerce giant.

AP's Warren Levinson has details.

Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos say they are divorcing after 25 years. Their marriage played a role in the creation of the online behemoth that made him the world's wealthiest person.

The couple met while they were working at a New York City hedge fund and married six months later.

While she drove them cross-country to Seattle, he sketched out the business plan that became Amazon, starting his online book seller evolving into a retailer of almost everything as well as a data giant.

Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos says they will remain "cherished friends," according to their announcement. It is silent on how they will divide up the estimated $137 billion fortune.

I'm Warren Levinson.

An up day on Wall Street, with all three major indices closing in positive territory. The Dow was up point three nine percent, the S&P 500 rose point four one percent while the NASDAQ was up point eight seven percent.

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