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This is BBC World News Today with me, Kasia Madera. Two of the world's
most influential men leaders meet in Rome. Contentious issues like
abortion were discussed when President Obama met Pope Francis -
but their first meeting began with smiles and warm handshakes.
Like people around the world I have been incredibly moved by his passion
and message of inclusion. As the UN votes to declare Russia's
annexation of Crimea illegal, a prominent Ukraine opposition leader
says she'll run for president. Also coming up: First Twitter, now
Youtube. Internet users in Turkey face another site ban. What's behind
the Turkish governments latest attempt to restrict new media?
It's official - the World Health Organisation declares its South East
Asia region Polio-free, after no new cases were recorded in India In the
past three years. Hello and welcome. Pope Francis has
held his first ever meeting with President Obama. Their talks, at the
Vatican, began with the US president describing himself as a great
admirer of the Pope. After the meeting the Vatican confirmed that
the issues raised included abortion and birth control. The BBC's Katty
Kay in Rome. She is monitoring the historic meeting. Lots bringing
these men together, but also a lot to divide them.
Yes, welcome to a wet and rainy Vatican Square, but I must say it
has not dampened the spirits of White House officials, glad that the
meeting went on for one hour, feeling that there was more that
united the men. Resident Obama made a point of saying that he and the
Pope had not dwell on the social issues including contraception and
abortion that divides them, the president and the White House keen
to stress that it had been a successful meeting focusing on
poverty, income inequality, and conflict around the world.
The coming of the president. The American superpower engaging with
the very different world of the Vatican. A place of time honoured
tradition, centuries of faith and belief. Moving to the slow rhythm of
ritual, the president came looking for an ally. He likes the Pope's
style and says he is a man the world should listen to. He has praised the
Pope's amendment to the struggle against global poverty. President
Obama said that is his fight also and he is waging it back home in
America. He hopes he can build an alliance based on a common concern
for the plight of the poor. The smiles seemed promising. President
Obama talked of his admiration for his host and thanked him for his
audience. Then the men were left to discuss the affairs of a troubled
world around them. Later, more tradition. An exchange of gifts.
Nothing was said to the cameras about how the discussion had gone.
After the president left, the Vatican made no mention of any
emerging partnership between them in a war on poverty, it is said the
talks focused more on tension between American Catholics and the
White House. President Obama may not have got as much as he wanted out of
his visit to the Vatican. Are they now divided or United? I am
joined by the offer of a new book, the Vatican according to Francis.
Much has been made over whether this was a construct of discussion
focusing on the things that united them, or whether it was the social
issues that divide them. What do you think?
They both have much in common but this discussion was influenced by
the American conference of Bishops. There is a scepticism on the part of
Democrats towards American Catholic ships. -- Bishops. The holy see used
the visit to redefine Pope Francis, perceived as a liberal in Western
media. They are saying, on these issues, we are still there, Pope
Francis is a Pope, not a liberal Pope.
I spoke to a Vatican official who reiterated that, saying that they
could not let resident away without raising social issues. But from the
point of view of the White House, they were thrilled. If only for the
photo opportunity. The length of the conversation means that they must
have had something to say to each other. But I also think that the
influence of American bishops is still very strong. This Pope had a
need to demonstrate a personal understanding, but the holy see as
such, they had to underline the differences. Not a disconnection,
just a different role between the holy see officially, and the
personal relationship between the Pope and the president.
You have written a book about this Pope. Watching his body language,
did you read anything into it? He seemed less enthusiastic, even
personally, than the president. We must consider that the president
needed this visit more than the Pope. And this Pope is Latin
American. He has a different approach to the United States. He
views the USA is a country that is the heartland of capitalism. And he
has criticised the excesses of capitalism. For this reason, and the
fact that President Obama reflects a Democratic administration, perhaps
this Pope was more cautious. Thank you for joining us in a
beautiful Saint Peters Square. A day of historic visit.
A stunning location indeed. Moving on, Russia's annexation of Ukraine's
Crimea region has been described as illegal in a resolution passed in
the last few hours by the United Nations General Assembly in New
York. Ukraine's Foreign Minister described Russia's action as the
most flagrant violation of international law since the UN was
founded. But the Russian ambassador called for respect for the voluntary
choice of the overwhelming majority in Crimea. 100 nations voted for the
resolution, with 11 against and 58 abstentions. In Ukraine, an
opposition leader and former Prime Minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, has
announced she will run for president in the election in May. She was
released from jail after President Viktor Yanukovich fled Kiev. She had
been imprisoned in 2011 for alleged corruption, linked to a gas deal she
brokered with Russia. David Stern is in Kiev. I want to talk about the
United Nations vote, and also Yulia Tymoshenko in a moment. But first of
all, you have some breaking news for us?
Yes, I am just above the central square in Kiev, a large crowd had
just marched from the square on the parliament. They are very aggressive
and angry and are demanding the resignation of the Interior
Minister. They are angry over the killing of a far right activists
earlier this week. They are now outside the parliament, I was just
over there, they are shouting, shame, alt with the gang. -- out.
That was a slogan of the revolution, now it is being directed
at parliamentarians. Very emotional and aggressive crowd.
What did they make of this is UN vote, this non-binding vote?
They see it more as a symbolic thing. It is non-binding. Although
it was a strong vote with 100 members out of 193 voting for this,
Ukrainian officials say this is another vote of confidence, of
support, but the question is, what will anything do to de-escalate the
tension? The government is looking toward the West, looking to
sanctions, but there is a great deal of worry that Russia could exercise
what it considers a right to intervene militarily in the eastern
part of the country. Thank you very much.
Now a look at some of the days other news. 90 people are still missing
after a massive mudslide in Washington state on Saturday. The
official death toll is 16 - a further eight bodies have been
located but not recovered. Search crews are using dogs, bulldozers and
their bare hands to clear the mud at the scene, 90 kilometres northeast
of Seattle. After five days, rescuers say there's little hope of
finding anyone else alive. The world's longest serving prisoner
on death row has walked free from prison after having his conviction
for murder overturned by a court in Japan. Iwao Hakamada - a former
boxer - was sentenced to death in 1968. He'd been found guilty of
murdering his boss, his wife and family. He'll now face a re-trial.
Ed Miliband has led the tributes at the funeral of veteran Labour
politician, Tony Benn. He died earlier this month at the age of 88.
Turkey has blocked access to the video-sharing website YouTube - and
that's just a day after a Turkish court suspended a ban on Twitter
that had been supported by the Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The
action against Youtube was taken after an audio recording was posted
which was said to be of ministers discussing military operations in
Syria. I am joined by the Opinion Editor with the English language
Hurriyet Daily News, via webcam from Istanbul. What now? What is wrong
with you Tube, put it into context for us?
The Prime Minister had already talked about taking action against
the website a couple of days ago, because after all, the audio
recordings are targeting the Prime Minister and his environment,
accusing them of bribery and corruption, they were on Youtube. So
already, it was on the so-called hit list of the Prime Minister. But what
triggered the bank today was a leakage of an audio recording. --
ban. It was a recording of a very sensitive meeting between the
foreign minister, his advisers, military representatives, and the
chief of intelligence, talking about possible action against Syria. This
is a very serious national security breach. That is why the government
has taken the action of attempting to curb the website to prevent it
spreading out. When we saw Twitter being banned,
the Turkish people went around the back door, so to speak. What
reaction to this? A similar reaction. But I must say,
the fact that very sensitive information was leaked as sent a
shock wave throughout the country. People are also reflecting on how
such an important meeting, because at the end of the day the Foreign
Ministry has confirmed it is authentic, so people are shocked
that it could happen, that such an important meeting was able to be
listened to and then diffused via the Internet. Obviously people try
back or strategies -- back door, the same thing will happen here. But
there is a serious threat to national security. The government is
targeting the wrong address. It should be thinking about measures in
order to prevent such listening taking place. I'm so sorry to
interrupt you, but we have to leave it there. That was Barcin Yinanc.
Moving on. Still no debris has been found from
flight MH370 in the southern Indian ocean. Satellite pictures from
Thailand apparently show 300 objects in the search area. If debris is
found, sonar equipment will be used to search the sea bed. Our transport
correspondent Richard Westcott reports.
You couldn't pick a harder place to find a missing aircraft. Remote, two
miles deep and with some of the worst weather in the world. But for
all the ships, satellite and spotter planes, there is only one way to
find things under the water. Sonar. Researchers at the University of
Southampton showed me how it started. They call this piece of
equipment the fish. It is the same sort of piece of equipment they will
be using to find the aircraft. It sends sound waves down to the sea
bed, listens to the Echo and a map. Scanning the bottom, line by line,
the picture builds. But it is slow work, and we had good weather. In
the open ocean, weather is as much as 20 metres, waves of as much as 20
metres. You have to lower the fish down to just above the sea bed, and
that can take a couple of hours of feeding cable out. It is dangerous
and slow. They used the same technique a few years ago to locate
a French airliner that had crashed into the Atlantic. It took some two
years to find most of that aircraft, and they were lucky, because it came
to rest on a rare, flat part of an underwater mountain range. The
search for flight MH370 will be even harder. Is it easy to get confused,
for a rock to look like a piece of aircraft?
Very easy, and we don't know what the sea bed is like in a particular
area. They could get lucky and pick up something on day one. They could
be out there for ten years. If they are fortunate, they will stumble
across a large piece of wreckage. It could look like this. Those two long
ridges are the power cable to the Isle of Wight. The green blob over
here is a 100 foot long shipwreck. They still don't know for sure
whether Malaysia airline ended up. In an hour, we mapped barely one
square mile of the sea bed. The search area for the missing plane
spans tens of thousands of square miles.
Here in Britain, a number of MPs from the Conservtive party are
urging the Government to consider following Germany in considering
proposals to send home out-of-work migrants from other European Union
countries. The German government has welcomed a report proposing new
welfare limits for EU migrants. Among the recommendations, EU
migrants would be removed from the country if they failed to find work
within three to six months. Immigrants currently account for 15%
of those who claim welfare benefits in Germany. That's 1.2 million
people, of whom 290,000 are citizens of other EU countries. With me is
Imke Henkel. She's the London correspondent for the German weekly
news magazine Focus. These are just proposals, not law. Exactly. They
will not appear before the summer, possibly. But the coalition is
interested in Nice? Definitely. It is quite a number, and it is a topic
in Germany as well as it is in Britain, and there has been a spell
at the beginning of the year between the two coalition partners, we have
two Conservative Party is, and there is always a wrangle between them,
and there has been from the Bavarian party, quite pronounced, a Pellinen
it, populist move against immigrants. Do you think it is
interesting that the coalition in our country, the Conservative part,
is also interested? I had a laugh when I read it. MPs saying how
important is David Cameron's influence is. But it is certainly a
coalition that, if Britain moves and Germany moves, becomes more
decisive, it is politically skilful. There have been a few British
proposals around the beginning of the year, and there was an outcry
about how xenophobic and anti-European David Cameron was. But
he wasn't saying much different from watch Angela Merkel was saying. And
she now very much more adeptly does a very technical report, looks into
the conditions, basically says, EU law already says that you are
allowed to stay for three months, and the freedom of movement only
applies for people in work. As a job-seeker, you can stay another six
months. In general, it is within the already given boundaries, and this
report just looks at, maybe we can tweak it a bit more. It is a good
point that you make, it is not that easy to get benefits within the U.
Imke, we have to leave it there. Thank you very much.
Now, what happened at the end of the Sri Lankan civil war will now be
investigated by the United Nations. The UN Human Rights Council voted
for an inquiry into alleged war crimes committed during that time.
The resolution calls for an investigation into alleged abuses
committed by both the Sri Lankan state and Tamil rebels, during their
25-year conflict. Our diplomatic correspondent James Robbins reports.
Five years ago, the long civil war in Sri Lanka was brought to a bloody
end. Both sides are accused of war crimes, but it is the conduct of
government forces in the final assault which has been the subject
of global controversy ever since. Pressure for a full investigation,
allegations they deliberately shelled civilians, used rape and
torture as weapons of war, has now resulted in a UN vote to open an
international investigation. TRANSLATION: The result of the vote
is as follows. 23 member states voted for the
resolution, 12 against, and 12 abstained, including India, which
many had expected to support an investigation.
The draft resolution is thereby adopted.
In northern Sri Lanka, many will be delighted by newsmen -- news that
the UN will now look into this. We are only interested in the welfare
of the country, the people of the country. So this investigation
should be allowed. If you have nothing to hide, why don't you allow
this investigation? They can do that.
Sri Lanka's government stands accused of abusing the law, ignoring
unexplained disappearances of dissenters and move into greater
authoritarianism. But a senior minister told the BBC that the Tamil
Tigers remain a threat, and Sri Lanka's sovereignty could be
violated. We are not in agreement with any investigation into our
internal matters. We have our legal system. We have able people, very
eminent people with the knowledge of international law and human rights.
So the test now is this. We'll Sri Lanka's president
cooperate in anyway with the UN enquiry? Last year chairing a
Commonwealth summit in Colombo, he rejected all of the pressure for
full investigation of the past. He shows no sign of any change of
heart. 80% of the world is now free of
polio after no new cases were recorded in India in the past three
years. The World Health Organisation has declared that the deadly virus
has been stamped out of its entire South East Asia region, which
includes India but not other neighbouring countries. The
announcement is being seen as a major milestone in the fight against
polio. The BBC's global health correpondent Tulip Mazumdar reports.
Many thought it couldn't be done. Immunising all of India's 170
million children. But the country hasn't had a new polio case in three
years, which means the WHO can now declare the whole of its Southeast
Asian region free of this deadly virus. Countries like Britain have
been polio free for decades, but the WHO says this announcement brings
the goal of a polio free world much closer. However, major challenges
remain. Polio remains endemic in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria.
In a scanner stand and Nigeria, cases of strop substantially, -- in
Afghanistan and Nigeria, cases have dropped substantively. But in
Pakistan, polio is on the rise, with new infections increasing from 58 in
2012 to 93 last year. And here's why. Militants in the country have
killed dozens of polio workers in the last couple of years, believing
programmes are cover-up for Western espionage or a plot to harm Muslim
children. There have been outbreaks in countries such as Syria and the
Horn of Africa where immunisation campaigns have been disrupted by
conflict. Globally, cases actually rose by more than one third between
2012 and 2013. But with most of the world is now officially polio free,
there is greater optimism that the goal of wiping this virus off the
face of the planet by 2018 is achievable. Tulip Mazumdar, BBC
News. A reminder of our main news: Pope
Francis has held his first ever meeting with President Obama. Their
talks began with the US president describing himself as a great
admirer of the Pope. Well, that's all from the programme.
Next, the weather. But for now from me and the rest of the team,
goodbye. Hello. Whether changes are on the
way for most of the UK. It is going to warm up. Some hail, sleet and
snow is still around at the moment. Going through Friday, we have this
week whether France still producing outbreaks