VOA NEWS

January 12, 2019

News. I'm David Byrd in Washington.



U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the United States plans to jointly host a global summit focused on the Middle East, particularly Iran, next month in Poland.

Pompeo told Fox News that the meeting would focus on the Middle East stability and peace and freedom and security, and it would include an important element of making sure Iran is not a destabilizing influence.

"We are very hopeful that we will get the bad actors in the region, the Russians and the Iranians, to come to the table along with the regime and all the other stakeholders, they come to the table and have conversations about what a post-civil war political structure might look like in Syria."

Pompeo is in the middle of an eight-day trip through the region and said the United States is re-doubling its efforts to put pressure on Iran. He sought to convince allies in the region that the United States is committed to fighting Islamic State despite President Trump's recent decision to pull U.S. troops out of Syria.

Meanwhile, the withdrawal from Syria is getting underway but at least for now, it does not involve 2,000 U.S. troops on the ground.

A defense official told VOA Friday that equipment, not troops, is moving in the initial stage of that pullout.



Meanwhile, the U.N.'s refugee agency said that some [2,000 gr] 2,000 people, that is, remain in Hajin, the last enclave of the Islamic State group in eastern Syria. UNHCR spokesperson Andre Mahecic said those fleeing reported increasingly desperate conditions.

"It is estimated right now that some 2,000 people remain in the conflict-affected area of Hajin. Those fleeing report increasingly desperate conditions, diminishing services and extremely high prices of basic foods. We are worried for civilians who continue to be trapped in ISIS-held areas."

Mahecic said more than 8,000 people had been displaced.



This is VOA news.



President Donald Trump says that he will not declare a national emergency right now over border security.

He called on Democratic leaders to negotiate over his demand of nearly $6 billion for a border wall with Mexico.

AP's Sagar Meghani has details.

The dispute with Democrats over wall funding has led to what tonight will be ???combination's longest government shutdown.

The president's been threatening to declare an emergency as a way of going around Congress. Today he called it the easy solution, but "I'm not going to do it so fast because this is something Congress should do."

Though there is no indication, lawmakers would as the impasse continues, some 800,000 government workers missed paychecks today.

Sagar Meghani, Washington



The runner-up in the Democratic Republic of Congo's presidential election says he will file a legal challenge to election results that gave the victory to one his rivals.

Martin Fayulu told VOA's French to Africa service that he will go to the Constitutional Court on Saturday and demand a manual recount of the vote.

The official results put him in second place behind provisional winner Felix Tshisekedi, the son of a longtime opposition leader.

Meanwhile, in New York, the U.N. Security Council heard from the national election commission and the Catholic bishops conference on the outcome of the December 30 vote.

DRC President Joseph Kabila has already remained in office two years past the end of his official mandate. He was due to step down this month after 18 years in power once a new president was elected.



A young Saudi woman who fled from her family out of fear for her life has left Thailand for Canada and has been granted asylum.

Thai officials said Friday evening that 18-year-old Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun is en route to Toronto.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed his country had granted Alqunun asylum and said that the teenager had chosen to live in Canada.

"Canada has been unequivocal that we will always stand up for human rights and women's rights around the world. This is part of a long tradition of Canada engaging constructively and positively in the world and working with our partners, allies and with the United Nations."

Alqunun has accused her family of abuse and had refused to meet her father who traveled to Bangkok to try take her back to Saudi Arabia.



And U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who missed three days of oral arguments this week as she recovers from lung cancer surgery, will miss another three days next week but will continue to work from home.

A court spokeswoman said the 85-year-old Ginsburg will participate in all the cases she has missed and "Her recovery from surgery is on track."



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