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US President Donald Trump and Saudi King Agree to Back Safe Zones in Syria and Yemen

Trump spent the last two days reaching out by telephone to a number of world leaders

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Donald Trump at Press Conference- Image Courtesy- Wikimedia
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he White House says President Donald Trump and Saudi King Salman bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud have agreed to back safe zones in Syria and Yemen.

The two spoke by telephone Sunday, reaffirming the longstanding relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia.

A White House statement said Trump asked for the king’s support for safe zones, and that the king agreed.

They also said they will support what the White House called “other ideas” to help refugees driven from their homes because of war, and the “importance of rigorously enforcing” the nuclear deal with Iran, which Trump has fiercely criticised as a bad deal.

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Trump spent the last two days reaching out by telephone to a number of world leaders. He also was to talk Sunday with the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates, Mohammed bin Zayed, and acting South Korean President Hwang Kyo-Ahn.

He spoke Saturday to Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

In a much anticipated call, Trump also spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin, agreeing to cooperate in defeating Islamic State and work for peace in Syria and throughout the world.

The White House said the hour-long call was “positive,” and that it was “a significant start to improving the relationship” between Washington and Moscow, which has been badly strained in recent months, primarily over allegations that Russia interfered in the November presidential election.

Neither side mentioned U.S.-imposed sanctions on Russia, or the possibility they could be eased.

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A Kremlin statement said Putin and Trump “thoroughly discussed” international issues, “including the fight against terrorism, the situation in the Middle East, the Arab-Israeli conflict, the sphere of strategic stability and nonproliferation, the situation around the Iranian nuclear program and the Korean Peninsula.”

The talks also “touched upon … the main aspects of the crisis in Ukraine,” Moscow’s statement said, adding: “It was agreed to establish a partnership on all these and other areas.”(VOA)

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Rate of autism in US reduced in the past three years

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Rate of autism in US reduced in the past three yearsRate of autism in US reduced in the past three years
FILE - Colleen Jankovich works with her 11-year-old autistic son, Matthew, in Omaha, Nebraska, May 23, 2014. VOA

Miami, Jan 2, 2018: After more than a decade of steady increase in the rate of children diagnosed with autism in the United States, the rate has plateaued in the past three years, researchers said Tuesday.

The findings were based on a nationwide study in which more than 30,000 parents reported whether their children had been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

“The estimated ASD prevalence was 2.41 percent among US children and adolescents in 2014-2016, with no statistically significant increase over the three years,” said the research letter by experts at the University of Iowa, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

The first observation of a plateau was made by a separate group in 2012, when the rate flattened out to 1.46 percent, according to the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network.

Federal health authorities say that means about one in 68 children in the United States have the neurodevelopmental disability, whose causes remain poorly understood.

The ADDM had documented a “continuous increase from 0.67 percent in 2000 to 1.47 percent in 2010.”

The 2.4 percent rate described in the JAMA report translates to one in 47 children, but researchers cautioned that the discrepancy may be explained by “differences in study design and participant characteristics.”

The JAMA report, based on the annual National Health Interview Survey, did not delve into “underlying causes for the findings and cannot make conclusions about their medical significance.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also noted a plateau in the autism rate in 2016, but said it was “too soon to know whether ASD prevalence in the United States might be starting to stabilize.” (VOA)

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