The top United States’ diplomat says men, women and children in eastern Ukraine “are being killed, tortured and raped.” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry made the comment Monday during a visit to Geneva, Switzerland. Secretary Kerry spoke to the United Nations’ Human Rights Council.
Earlier Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke to the U.N. group. He reported that, in his words, “tangible progress” has been made in efforts to carry out a ceasefire agreement in Ukraine. He urged Ukraine’s government to distance itself from what he called “extremists.”
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has said Russian-supported separatists continue to violate the ceasefire agreement. The United States and its European allies are considering new actions to punish Russia for its involvement in Ukraine.
The U.N. Human Rights Office reported Monday that more than 6,000 people have been killed in eastern Ukraine since April of last year.
U.S. calls for an investigation in Boris Nemtsov’s murder
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has called for a clear investigation into the murder of Boris Nemtsov, the Russian opposition leader.
Over the weekend, Mr. Kerry spoke on the ABC news program This Week.
He said: “We hope there will be a thorough, transparent, real investigation, not just of actually who fired the shot, but whom, if anyone may have ordered or instructed this or been behind this.”
Mr. Nemtsov was shot to death late last Friday near the Kremlin. He was walking home after dinner with a girlfriend. Mr. Nemtsov was a critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Mr. Putin said that he will personally oversee the investigation into the killing. Russian officials also announced a reward worth about $50,000 for information about Mr. Nemtsov’s murder.
In the U.S., former Russian chess champion and rights activist Gary Kasparov appeared on the NBC news program Meet the Press. He said that he is not sure if Mr. Putin was involved. But Mr. Kasparov said that Mr. Putin’s rule of Russia created the atmosphere that played a part in the killing.
Top diplomat says US will fairly examine Israel’s rights record
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry defended Israel Monday at the U.N. Human Rights Council meeting. He told the Council’s members there is, what he called, a clear “unbalanced focus” on Israel.
Secretary Kerry questioned why so many of the Council’s resolutions were directed at Israel. He said the United States will fairly examine questions about Israel’s rights record. But he added that U.S. officials will not support efforts to unfairly criticize Israeli actions or separate Israel from the rest of the world.
On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in Washington. Mr. Netanyahu will speak to the U.S. Congress on Tuesday. Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner invited the Israeli leader to give the speech without first contacting President Barack Obama.
The invitation has divided Americans. Nearly half of those questioned say lawmakers should not have invited him to speak without first informing the Obama administration. Thirty percent of those questioned thought the invitation was acceptable.
Iraq strikes Islamic State group in Tikrit
Iraqi troops and militia fighters attacked Islamic State forces in an area north of Baghdad Monday. Military commanders said Iraq’s air force carried out airstrikes on Islamic State targets. They also said ground troops moved toward Islamic State fighters.
The attacks are part of a highly publicized campaign to recapture the Iraqi city of Tikrit. Islamic State forces have held Tikrit since June when they captured part of northern Iraq.
North Korea fires rockets as US South Korea begin military exercise
North Korea has fired two missiles into the sea in what appears to be a protest against a joint U.S. and South Korean military exercise. South Korean officials say the missiles fell into the East Sea, about 490 kilometers from the North Korean port of Nampo.
The North Korean government has warned of “merciless strikes” against its enemies. North Korea has long demanded that the U.S. and South Korea stop the yearly military exercises. The North Korean government has denounced them as preparation for a northward invasion.
I’m Mario Ritter.
This report was based on stories from VOA’s News Division. George Grow wrote it for Learning English. Mario Ritter was the editor.
Words in This Story
diplomat – n. a person who represents his or her government in dealing with another government
comment – n. statement; an expression or opinion about something
punish – v. to cause pain, suffering or loss for doing something bad or illegal
criticize – v. to say what is wrong with something or someone; to condemn; to judge