United States

Pomp and protocol await Pope Francis on White House visit

The extraordinary gesture on Sept. 22 is just the beginning of the pomp and protocol that Washington will put on display to welcome the popular leader of the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics and the head of Vatican City on his first U.S. visit.

The next day, Francis will be just the third pope to visit the White House, being greeted as most heads of state are, with his car pulling slowly up the South Lawn's driveway to the spot where a red carpet will be rolled out and Obama and his wife, Michelle, will be waiting.

Officials: US to increase number of refugees by 5K next year

Two officials and a congressional aide said that Secretary of State John Kerry told members of Congress in a closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill Wednesday that the United States will boost its worldwide quota for resettling refugees from 70,000 to 75,000 next year, a number that could increase further. A fraction of those would be from Syria.

Kerry said after the meeting that the United States would increase the number of refugees it is willing to take in but did not give a specific number.

Donald Trump hopes to run against Kanye West in Presidential race

On Sunday night, Yeezus made waves when he announced at the end of his 13-minute speech while accepting the prestigious Video Vanguard Award that he is running for president in 2020.

So, naturally, Rolling Stone asked Donald Trump about the much-buzzed about moment during a sit-down with the real estate mogul at Trump Tower on Tuesday.

"He's said very nice things about me in the past... extremely positive things," the 69-year-old presidential hopeful and quote machine told the publication.

US sending big team to Pacific Islands Forum

It will be headed by Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources, Heather Higginbottom, and the State Department says the visit aims to emphasize the depth and breadth of US engagement with the Pacific.

The U.S. delegation will also include senior officials from the United States Pacific Command, the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Fuel depot upgrade planned for Cooks' Penrhyn

One of the main projects for the force's Tropic Twilight exercise is the relocation and rebuilding of the fuel depot on Penrhyn.

New Zealand's Foreign Minister Murray McCully says improving fuel storage will enable better use of the patrol boat Te Kukupa to carry out fisheries surveillance around the islands.

The force's engineers will also upgrade buildings on Manihiki.

The exercise will involve China, the United States, the UK and France and is aimed at testing the force's abilities to provide disaster relief and humanitarian assistance.

Warning over American Samoa wage hike proposal

American Samoa's governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga has proposed increasing the local minimum wage on condition the US Congress provide a federal subsidy to support the rise.

The minimum wage in the territory is set to rise by 50 cents in September, following a three year wage freeze.

StarKist's fish cannery in Pago Pago is one of the territory's biggest employers.

U.S and Pacific explore platform for economic development engagement

The two day meeting at the Fijian Hotel on Yanuca Island will among other things explore how Pacific exporters can take advantage of the U.S Generalised System of Preferences (GSP).

CNMI seeks extension on US military plans

The governor, Eloy Inos, says an extension to the deadline for submissions on the military's draft Environmental Impact Statement is necessary because of the impact of Typhoon Soudelor.

Mr Inos says with a territory-wide cleanup underway to restore essential services damaged by the typhoon last week the community is unlikely to have time to prepare submissions.

The US military plans to use the islands of Tinian and Pagan for live-fire missile training and amphibous landings as part of its expansion into the Asia-Pacific region.

US probing if Iranian violated UN sanctions with Russia trip

Power said the travel ban requires all countries deny Maj. Gen. Ghasem Soleimani entry into their borders, and the only exception is if the Security Council committee monitoring sanctions against Iran grants an exemption.

"To our knowledge no such exemption was granted, and we would know," Power told reporters Friday. "So these are very concerning reports but we are still, again, tracking down the facts."

US, Turkey aim for IS-free zone in northern Syria

The move is expected to further embroil Turkey in Syria's civil war and set up a potential conflict with U.S.-backed Kurdish forces.

A U.S. official said the creation of an "Islamic State-free zone" would ensure greater security and stability in the Turkish-Syrian border region. However, the official said any joint military efforts with Turkey would not include the imposition of a no-fly zone.