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VOA English Newscast: 1200 UTC April 8, 2016

Secretary of State John Kerry boards his military transport to depart Baghdad International Airport in Baghdad, April 8, 2016.
Secretary of State John Kerry boards his military transport to depart Baghdad International Airport in Baghdad, April 8, 2016.
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From Washington, this is VOA News.

I’m Steve Karesh reporting.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has launched a series of talks with Iraqi officials on Friday during a one-day visit to Baghdad to underscore U.S. support for the government as it addresses security, economic and political challenges.

“This is obviously a very critical time here in Iraq and the region, and you and I have been working on a lot of different issues over the past few years. So it’s good to come and be able to visit…”

That is Kerry speaking with Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari. He will also meet with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and Kurdistan regional government Prime Minister Nechrivan Barzani.

In addition to showing U.S. support for the government, Kerry is also expected to discuss the multi-national coalition's ongoing support for Iraqi-led efforts to defeat Islamic State, said State Department spokesman John Kirby, ahead of the trip.

Kerry's visit comes as Iraqi-led forces push to re-take the northern city of Mosul, which fell to Islamic State militants in 2014.

A group of 45 Pakistani migrants has reached Dikili, in Turkey, making the short trip from a migrant camp on the Greek islands where they were staying.

At least two activists were arrested for trying to prevent the Turkish vessel from leaving. A second group of migrants is expected to arrive in Turkey later on Friday. Greek authorities say none of the migrants sent to Turkey have applied for asylum in the EU.

Myanmar has begun releasing political prisoners, as promised by ruling party leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Thursday.

Families had begun gathering at prisons since Aung San Suu Kyi's announcement, awaiting word of their loved ones. She said amnesties would be granted as part of the celebration of the Buddhist New Year.

From Washington, this is VOA News.


Words in This Newscast

underscore – v. to show the importance of something

addresses – v. to deal with; to give attention to

challenge – n. a difficult problem; something that is hard to do

obviously – adv. clearly

critical – adj. involving or using careful judgment about something

region – n. an area

multi – prefix. More than two; many

ongoing – v. continuing to exist or happen

ahead – adv. or adj. in or toward the front; before

migrant – n. someone who moves from one place to another, usually for economic reasons

vessel – n. a ship or boat

applied – v. requested

amnesty – n. a pardon; a decision to free a prisoner or group of prisoners

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