President Obama has defended American policy on Iran. His remarks were in reaction to criticism from Republican presidential candidates. He said his government's economic restrictions are working. Mr. Obama also said that American and Israeli intelligence officials believe that differences with Iran can be settled diplomatically. But, he said world leaders will not permit Iran to have a nuclear weapon. Mr. Obama made his comments to reporters at the White House Tuesday.
The United Nations says at least nine thousand Syrians have fled into Lebanon since Syria began its campaign against anti-government protests last year. The UN Refugee Agency says it and the Lebanese government believe more than seven thousand have entered Lebanon since last April. At least two thousand additional Syrians fled across the border in the Bekaa Valley in recent days to escape the violence in the city of Homs. An opposition group, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, says Syrian forces bombed a bridge Tuesday. The group says the bridge was used to remove wounded from Homs. Another opposition group, the Syrian Local Coordination Committee, says government forces shelled Maaret al-Numan in northwestern Idlib province. Witnesses reported large explosions and cut communication lines in the Daraa area.
Early returns from India's state elections show a major defeat for the ruling Congress Party and the famous Gandhi family. Results released on Tuesday show the Congress Party winning clearly only in Manipur state. It is losing or likely to lose in three other states. And, it is in a tight race for the fifth state. The Congress Party had hoped to make gains after months of intensive campaigning by Rahul Gandhi, the son of party chief Sonja Gandhi. Mr. Gandhi said the results were not good but that his work to strengthen the party will continue. In the last two years, the Congress Party has been charged with corruption and is fighting high inflation.
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Talks between Sudan and South Sudan came to a halt when officials shouted at each other late Tuesday. The meeting ended not long after the United Nations demanded that the countries take action to avoid war. A member of the talks told VOA that the sides could not agree on citizenship issues. The decisions are supposed to start again Wednesday. Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant of Britain is the current chief of the UN Security Council. He said the group is very concerned about reports of troop movements and airstrikes near the border of the two countries. He urged them to respect a non-aggression treaty they signed less than a month ago.
Thousands of people reportedly have fled recent attacks by the Lord's Resistance Army in Oriental province of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The United Nations Refugee Agency made the report. The agency says the LRA has been attacking the territories of Dongu and other places in the province. The agency says the civilian population is fearful of the attacks after having some security for several months.
Turkish Airlines has started flights to the capital of Somalia. It is the first commercial airline outside east Africa to fly there in more than twenty years. Turkey's deputy prime minister took the first flight from Turkey's Ataturk Airport into Mogadishu on Tuesday. After the plane landed, he said Turkish Airlines has provided a way for Somalis to travel to the outside world again.
American officials announced Tuesday that they had arrested six reported members of a group Anonymous. The group violates Internet security, an act they call hacking. One member, Hector Xavier Monsegur, cooperated with the investigation that led to the arrests. Mr. Monsegur claimed responsibility for attacks on the websites of large companies, including Visa and Mastercard. He also said he attacked government computers in Tunisia, Algeria, Yemen, Zimbabwe and the American senate. Officials say the arrests should weaken Anonymous. But, another group that sends out Internet messages for Anonymous told supporters that Anonymous is OK and will continue hacking.
Finally, the first detailed maps of the Earth one hundred million years ago show an extremely hot planet covered by forests of tall trees. Scientists at the University of London based their map on the hardened remains of forests. Their study suggests that forests of evergreens called monkey puzzle trees covered the Earth from north to south. Monkey puzzle trees still grow in modern forests. The scientists suspect that heat from the sun that was trapped in the atmosphere helped the trees grow fast and tall. They warn that the heat-trapping gases could be at the same level as they were one hundred million years ago in fewer than two hundred fifty years. The findings were published in Geology Magazine.
Six countries have offered to restart talks with Iran about its disputed nuclear program. The United Nations says at least nine thousand Syrians have fled into Lebanon since Syria began its campaign against anti-government protesters last year. And, early returns from India's state elections show a major loss for the ruling Congress Party and the famous Gandhi family.
That's the news in VOA Special English coming your way from Washington.