World News

Kerry to Focus on North Korea, China on Asia Tour



U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has started a tour of Asia, where he plans to push North Korea to give up its nuclear ambitions and China to reduce regional tensions.

The trip is Kerry's fifth visit to Asia since becoming the top U.S. diplomat last year. It will include stops in South Korea on Thursday, China on Friday, and Indonesia on Saturday.

Washington has been critical of what it sees as China's attempts to gain control over contested parts of the East and South China Seas.

Ahead of Kerry's arrival in Seoul, a U.S. official said it is "unwise in the extreme for China" to take disruptive and destabilizing actions. The official warned Beijing should "do nothing to upend the status quo."

The Obama administration last week called on China to clarify or amend its vast maritime claims, suggesting they may be inconsistent with international law.

Kerry also is expected to encourage Beijing to put more pressure on its ally North Korea to scale back its nuclear weapons program.

The U.S. official says Kerry would like North Korea to rejoin stalled six-nation nuclear talks, but suggested the North would have to take "convincing steps" in order to do so.



North Korea will also be the main focus of Kerry's stop in Seoul, which this week held its highest-level talks in seven years with Pyongyang.

Inter-Korean ties have shown signs of improvement, but are expected to be strained later this month when U.S.-South Korean war drills begin.

North Korea says the annual exercises could prompt it to cancel reunions set for late February between families separated by the Korean War.

The drills have also complicated U.S. efforts to win freedom for Korean-American Kenneth Bae, who is detained in a North Korean labor camp.

Pyongyang has twice withdrawn an invitation for a senior U.S. diplomat to visit and negotiate the release of the Christian missionary.

In Indonesia, the last leg of Kerry's trip, climate change is expected to be a major focus. He is expected to deliver a major speech on climate change in the archipelago nation, which analysts say is especially vulnerable to climate change.

From Jakarta, Kerry will head Monday to the United Arab Emirates to meet Gulf leaders on Iran nuclear talks, Syria's civil war, and Middle East peace talks.

Some have accused the White House of focusing on the Middle East at the expense of its so-called economic and military "pivot" to Asia.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs