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VOA English Newscast: 1700 UTC October 21, 2015

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) shakes hands with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, October 20, 2015.
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From Washington, this is VOA News.

I’m Frances Alonzo reporting.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad returned home Wednesday after making a rare trip to Russia to meet with President Vladimir Putin and to discuss a three-week-old Russian military campaign backing Assad's army.

Assad is not known to have traveled abroad since 2011, the same year security forces cracked down on peaceful protests and the situation in his country spiraled into (a) civil war.

During Tuesday's meeting in Moscow, Assad thanked Putin for Russia's help, saying that without it "terrorism" would have spread to more areas.

Meanwhile, Russia's foreign ministry announced that Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will meet Friday with U.S. Secretary (of State) John Kerry in Vienna to discuss the situation in Syria.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden says he will not seek the Democratic Party's nomination for the presidency.

“I believe we’re out of time – the time necessary to mount a winning campaign for the nomination.”

Biden's announcement at the White House Wednesday ended weeks of speculation about whether he would run.

The vice president said previously (he) is not sure he has the emotional fortitude to run for president following the death of his son, Beau Biden, from brain cancer in May.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is the front-runner for the Democratic Party's nomination for the presidency in 2016, with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders running second in recent opinion polls.

The European Commission chief has called an emergency meeting of EU and Balkan leaders as the crowd(s) of migrants fleeing the Middle East and Africa continue to flood into the western Balkans.

Jean-Claude Juncker says there is a need for greater cooperation among the nations dealing with the migrant crisis. And he has invited the heads of state of 10 countries to meet Sunday in Brussels to strategize.

This is VOA News.


Words in This News

backing – v. in support of

abroad – n. overseas; in or to a foreign country

cracked down – v. suppress; to take action against

spiraled – v. to move in a circle around a central point

meanwhile – adv. at or during the same time

mount – v. to go or launch

speculation – n. ideas about something that is not known

previously – adj. formerly; existing or happening before now

fortitude – n. strength or energy

front-runner – n. leader

poll(s) – n. an activity in which people are asked one or more questions as a way to get information about what the public is thinking

migrants – n. people who go from one place to another, largely for economic reasons

strategize - v. to make a plan of action for reaching a goal

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