A top Red Cross official said Friday he’s “more concerned than I have ever been” about the possible regional spread of the Ebola virus in Congo after a new spike in cases. Congo’s health ministry on Thursday reported 1,206 confirmed and probable cases, including 764 deaths. The Ebola outbreak in Congo announced on Aug. 1 has become the second-deadliest in history, behind the West African one from 2014-16 that killed more than 11,300 people. The Red Cross cited Congolese health ministry statistics on Thursday showing 40 new cases over two days this week. It called that rate unprecedented in this outbreak. Ebola cases have spiked in recent weeks and officials are increasingly losing track of where the virus is spreading. Many new Ebola cases aren’t linked to previously identified patients, and numerous people are dying in the community rather than in health centers where they might be isolated to prevent further infection. The Red Cross cited lack of trust about Ebola treatment in the community, which had never faced an Ebola outbreak before, and insecurity caused by rebel groups that has hurt aid efforts. The WHO was criticized for not declaring the 2014 Ebola outbreak an international emergency until nearly 1,000 people had died and the disease had spilled across borders.
Former Obama White House counsel Greg Craig was indicted Thursday on charges of making false statements and concealing information in a federal foreign lobbying investigation that intersected with the Russia probe. The 74-year-old Craig was charged in a two-count indictment that accuses him of willfully concealing material facts from the Justice Department about work he performed for the Ukrainian government. The indictment, announced by the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, came a day after Craig’s lawyers said he expected to be charged in the probe spun off from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. In a video statement, Craig said the prosecution against him was “unprecedented and unjustified” and that he’s confident a judge and jury would agree. Craig’s indictment is part of a Justice Department crackdown on unregistered foreign lobbying and consulting. The scrutiny of Craig stems from an investigation of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his work on behalf of a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine. The charges come about three months after Craig’s former law firm agreed to pay more than $4.6 million and publicly acknowledge that it failed to register with the government for its work for the Ukraine.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo began a three-day visit to Chile, Paraguay and Peru on Friday, a clutch of fast-growing countries in a region where China’s growing presence is a concern for Washington and Venezuela’s crisis has escalated. It will be the first time since 1965 that a U.S. secretary of state has visited Paraguay, a symbolic gesture that experts say underscores U.S. commitment to the region. Pompeo will also travel on Sunday to Cucuta, a Colombian border city receiving many of the millions of Venezuelan migrants fleeing hunger and violence in their homeland. Venezuela’s political crisis is expected to dominate the trip as the United States pressures President Nicolas Maduro to step down and urges more countries to join the coalition supporting opposition leader Juan Guaido. The visit comes as Washington considers more sanctions against Maduro’s government and pushes Russia to remove its troops from Venezuela. Vice President Mike Pence, in an address to the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday, encouraged more countries to join the coalition in support of Guaido. While most Western nations have recognized Guaido as head of state, Russia, China and Cuba have stood by Maduro. During his travels, Pompeo is expected to highlight the gains from economic and trade cooperation with America, whose regional influence has been increasingly challenged by China.
President Donald Trump on Thursday expressed a willingness to hold a third summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un but said in talks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in that Washington would leave sanctions in place on Pyongyang. Trump and Moon, in the Oval Office, discussed the possibility of Moon having an inter-Korean summit with Kim soon as a way to boost dialogue between the United States and North Korea on denuclearization. North Korea, which has suspended nuclear tests and missile launches, has been pressing for sanctions relief but has not taken meaningful steps toward dismantling its nuclear weapons program. Trump and Kim have met twice, in Hanoi in February and Singapore last June, building good will but failing to agree on a deal to lift sanctions in exchange for North Korea abandoning its nuclear and missile programs. Trump said, “A third summit could happen. And it’s step by step. It’s not a fast process.