President Barack Obama has promised that the American soldier suspected of killing sixteen civilians in Afghanistan Sunday will be held responsible for his actions. Mr. Obama said the United States takes the incident as seriously as if our own citizens and our own children were murdered. He spoke to reporters Tuesday at the White House. President Obama met with the United States Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker and the top commander of coalition forces Lieutenant Colonel John Allen. He said he trusts troops and military leaders stationed in Afghanistan. He added that the United States will not leave Afghanistan now. President Obama said the challenge of defeating al-Qaida and other terrorist groups continues.
Pakistani officials say an American drone strike killed at least eight militants on Tuesday in the country's northwest near the Afghan border. Officials say one missile from the unmanned aircraft hit a vehicle traveling in the Birmal area of the South Waziristan tribal area. The dead include two top commanders of a militant group led by Maulvi Nazir. The group supports the Taliban in Afghanistan. But, it is not hostile to Pakistani officials. Security officials said the pilotless plane fired up to four missiles into the vehicle. Earlier this year, President Obama publicly stated for the first time that the United States uses drone strikes against militants in Pakistan.
Indian lawmakers demanded Tuesday that the central government take stronger action on reported war crimes in Sri Lanka at the end of the country's civil war. The crimes are said to have been committed by both sides, the Sri Lankan government and Tamil Tigers in two thousand nine. Next week, the United Nations Human Rights Council will vote on whether to support an investigation into the reported war crimes. India's Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee, has suggested that India may not vote. He said India does not support resolutions related to individual countries. Last year, a United Nations report said tens of thousands of civilians may have been killed during the conflict. The government of Sri Lanka has denied any wrongdoing.
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Negotiators in the talks between Sudan and South Sudan say the leaders of the two countries will meet soon. An official from the African Union says the two sides are continuing talks on border issues and oil profits. The AU is overseeing the negotiations. Earlier Tuesday, representatives from both countries agreed to set up committees to deal with questions of nationality and their common border. The two sides are meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and South Sudanese President Salva Kiir are expected to sign the agreement in coming weeks. South Sudan separated from Sudan in July. Important issues remain unsettled. Progress at the talks has been slow.
President Obama has warned China to stop limiting exports of so-called “rare earth” minerals. Many high technology products contain the metals. The United States, Japan and the twenty-seven-nation European Union asked the World Trade Organization in Geneva to help settle the dispute. They charge that China has placed export restrictions that violate WTO rules. China rejects the accusation. China controls ninety-five percent of world's supply of “rare earth” metals.
The United States central bank says the country's economy is expanding moderately. The bank decided against taking new actions to improve the economy. At a meeting Tuesday, the bank said the American labor market continues to improve. Unemployment rates are dropping although they are still too high. Citizens are spending more and business investments are on the increase. But, the central bank said the housing market remains depressed. The bank released the statement hours after the Department of Commerce released its own report. It said retail sales made their biggest gain in five months in February. Americans bought more cars, clothing and long-lasting goods like washing machines.
A new opinion study shows for the first time that French President Nicolas Sarkozy is more likely to defeat Socialist Party candidate Francois Hollande in the presidential election. The study says Mr. Sarkozy could win the first vote on April twenty-second but would lose in would lose in a second vote on May sixth. The French President increased his popularity after speaking at a gathering Sunday. He strongly criticized the European Union's trade and immigration policies. Earlier Tuesday, French political leader Marine Le Pen said she had enough support to be a candidate in next month's election. Ms. Le Pen heads the extremely conservative National Front Party. It supports strict anti-immigration policies.
That's the news in VOA Special English from Washington.