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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- As his body is laid to rest in his Ohio hometown, the shock of Otto Warmbier’s death is now giving way to anger -- and the Trump administration is actively weighing how to respond.

“It's a total disgrace what happened to Otto," President Trump told reporters Tuesday. "That should never, ever be allowed to happen. It’s a brutal regime, and we’ll be able to handle it.”

Warmbier was held for nearly a year-and-a-half by North Korea, much of that time while in a coma, according to the reclusive country's authoritarian regime. The details of his detention, especially how he ended up in that medical condition, are still unknown.

But the White House -- while happy to have returned Warmbier to his family -- is now deciding if and how it should respond to his death as it aims to “hold North Korea accountable for [his] unjust imprisonment,” according to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Beyond demanding a full account of what happened to Warmbier, the U.S. has few options to respond -- although there are three other U.S. citizens being detained in the country, and any action has to weigh their safety and concerns of a backlash against them.

TRAVEL BAN

Tillerson is actively considering whether to ban U.S. travel to North Korea, the State Department said Tuesday.

"The Secretary has the authority to do it," said spokesperson Heather Nauert. "He just has not come to a conclusion about how this would potentially work, but we’re considering it."

The U.S. strongly discourages travel to North Korea, with a stern travel warning but as of yet no ban. Without diplomatic ties in the country, the government cannot reach Americans held there, except through its protecting power Sweden. And North Korea has a history of using detainees from America or other countries as pawns in negotiations.

“Given the danger to United States citizens in the country, it is time to take the unusual step of imposing a ban,” former U.S. ambassador to South Korea Christopher Hill wrote in an editorial Wednesday. Hill led the U.S. delegation to North Korea nuclear talks under President George W. Bush.

There are restrictions on economic activity with North Korea, through a system of sanctions, and an all-out ban is not without precedent. Previously, the U.S. government has banned travel to countries that were perceived to be too dangerous, including Lebanon during the Lebanese civil war and Libya during some of the Moammar Gadhafi years.

The number of Americans in North Korea is difficult to track, but the country’s only private university employs around 40 U.S. citizens, many dual nationals. In addition, anywhere between 800 and 1,250 American tourists visit the country a year, although that number will likely decline after Warmbier’s death, especially as tour companies like Young Pioneer Tours, which Warmbier used, have canceled all future trips for Americans.

PRESSURING OTHER COUNTRIES

The Trump administration may also try to isolate North Korea even more, pressuring its neighbors and economic partners to cut ties.

It’s part of the current strategy to discourage the regime from pursuing its nuclear and missile programs, and according to the acting Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, it’s yielded some successes so far.

“We’ve seen a lot of different countries step up and take action on the pressure campaign,” Susan Thornton told reporters Monday.

According to Thornton, those actions include halting visas to North Korean laborers, whose wages usually go straight to the regime; denying landing rights and refueling privileges to North Korea’s national airline; expelling and reducing North Korea’s diplomatic presence in the countries; and interdicting shipments of arms and other sanctioned materials.

NEW SANCTIONS

The administration might also be considering new sanctions against North Korea or third-party entities that do business with the regime, including Chinese companies.

Nauert has declined to say if sanctions are among the considerations, saying only, “The actions that we may or may not take are still being contemplated here, so it’s just too early to say exactly what we’re going to do just yet.”

But even before Warmbier’s death, members of Congress were pushing a new sanctions report on Tillerson last week when he testified on Capitol Hill. The report by the nonprofit C4ADS lays out where the vulnerabilities are in North Korea’s financial networks and supply chains and how new sanctions could disrupt them and bring the regime to heel.

"The next step should be to sanction the Chinese financiers and traders who sustain Kim Jong Un," the Wall Street Journal editorial board urged Thursday. "The U.S. and its allies have to use every sanction and other tool available to prevent the Kim regime from doing to millions what it did to Otto Warmbier."

As the administration reviews, it seems sanctions would likely have to wait. After the U.S.-China summit Wednesday, Tillerson said that China reaffirmed its commitment to fully implement all United Nations Security Council sanctions, so the White House may give China some time to see that through first.

MILITARY STRIKES

The Trump administration has said that all military options are on the table with regards to North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs. But the reality is that the impact of military options would be limited and the threat of escalating into an all-out war makes it the least likely of the administration’s options, especially for Warmbier’s death.

Pre-emptive military strikes would likely focus on North Korea's facilities for launching or producing ballistic missiles or its nuclear facilities.

North Korea's nuclear facility at Yongbyon is well-known, but striking it could cause an environmental disaster. Easier targets would be North Korea's missile facilities like the Sohae Satellite Launching Station on the country's northwest coast that has become a center of activity for the country's long-range missile program.

But the greater threat from North Korea is posed by its new medium- and intermediate-range mobile systems that are hard to track by overhead satellites and can be launched on short notice.

If the U.S. were to take military action, potential targets could be North Korea's airfields in Hwangju, Kusong, and Wonsan provinces that have been used over the past year to test new longer-range missiles.

But pre-emptive strikes could lead North Korea to respond militarily, a prospect that carries the risk of risk of hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties.

The majority of North Korea’s million-man army is based just north of the demilitarized zone (DMZ) that is the border with South Korea. And long-range North Korean artillery along the DMZ can easily reach Seoul, South Korea’s capital.

That makes the scenario of a pre-emptive U.S. military strike a risky one and the least likely option available to the Trump administration.

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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Former professional basketball player Dennis Rodman spoke out in an exclusive interview with ABC News about his recent trip to North Korea, suggesting that he is partly responsible for the reclusive nation's release of American college student Otto Warmbier, who died last Monday, just days after being medically evacuated from a North Korean prison.

"I was just so happy to see the kid released," Rodman told Good Morning America co-anchor Michael Strahan of when he first learned of Warmbier's release. "Later that day, that's when we found out he was ill, no one knew that. We jumped up and down ... Some good things came of this trip."

Warmbier, who was released on the same day that Rodman arrived in North Korea for a brief visit, was sent back to the U.S. in a state of unresponsive wakefulness, according to doctors at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

The University of Virginia student was detained by North Korea for nearly 17 months following his January 2016 arrest in Pyongyang, for allegedly trying to steal a propaganda poster while he was visiting the country on a sightseeing tour.

Despite Rodman's belief that he had something to do with Warmbier's release, Warmbier's father said in a statement to ABC News that "Dennis Rodman had nothing to do with Otto returning to the United States."

Chris Volo, Rodman's agent who accompanied the athlete on his trip to North Korea, told ABC News that before they went, "I asked on behalf of Dennis for his release three times."

"I know being there had something to do with it," Volo said of Warmbier's release. "Because when I was organizing the trip ... and I meet with the delegates here, you know, I addressed ... Otto Warmbier. And I said to them, 'we...would need his...you know, a release, some type of good faith, if we're ever going to do some type of future sports relations ... They said they understood."

Rodman said he wished to "give all the prayer and love" to the Warmbier's family, adding "I didn't know that he was sick."

Volo added that they have contacted the family and are hoping to meet them, "but we were told that, you know, it just couldn't happen."

The two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year said he didn't meet with North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un, during his most recent visit.

"The previous times we did," he added. "I think the fact that, you know, my trips going up to North Korea is more like trying ... to get to communicate sports-wise. It ain't about trying to release people."

"It's not trying to do ... political stuff. It's almost just trying to reach out for sports and see if I can bring sports to North Korea," Rodman said.

Rodman also discussed how the country has changed over the course of his visits, saying "we've seen a lot of changes," including "the fact that it is so modernized now."

"When you go over there, and you hear the radio, and ... people are talking," Rodman said. "They're so happy now, because it's more like ... it's civilized again."

Rodman, who calls North Korean leader Kim Jong-un a friend, said, "people don't see ... the good side about that country. It's like going, like, to Asia. It's like going to like Istanbul, Turkey, or any place like that. It's pretty much just like that. You're know, you going to see some poverty. You're going to see some people that's not doing too well."

"I think people don't see him as ... a friendly guy," Rodman added of the country's dictator, adding "if you actually talk to him" you would see a different side of him.

"We sing karaoke," Rodman added of his relationship with Jong-un. "It's all fun. Ride horses, everything."

"It's the politics that's the bad thing. If we can try to figure something out, just open the door," Rodman suggested, saying that he believes "if Donald Trump had a chance," he would fly to North Korea "and try to make peace."

Rodman, who identifies as a Trump supporter, also called on the president to join him in creating peace with North Korea.

"I'll ask him right now. Donald, come talk to me. Let's try to work this out. Because you know what? I get nothing out of this. The only thing I get is out of pride for my country, America. I love America," Rodman said. "But I want these two sides to get together and try to figure something out. Some dialogue. That's it."

Rodman also revealed that the North Korean leader gave him a message to pass on to former President Obama on one of his previous visits, and he thinks the next time he visits, the leader may give him a message for President Trump.

"I think the next time we go, I think it's going to be in August. I think the fact that when ... I sit there and talk to him ... he'll throw comments out there," Rodman said of Kim Jong-un. "You know, he'll say, 'I want three things, Dennis, from you, if you can do this for us.'"

Rodman said that his message for Obama was to ask him to "move his ships."

"He said, 'There's just one thing I, I, would love for ... Obama to do,'" Rodman said of his conversation with Kim Jong-u. "He said, 'I would love him if he can move his ships...away a little bit.' That's the one thing he asked me. He said, 'If he can do that, I think we can have some new positive.'"

Rodman said that he is not going to North Korea for attention, saying, "I don't need to be on TV."

"What am I getting out of this? I'm going over there out of my kindness of my heart just to try to help. Just to open the door ... a little bit so we can have [a] talk," Rodman said.

"I'm spending hundreds of dollars just to go over there to try to just open the door a little bit," Rodman said.

Rodman said despite the widespread criticism and backlash that he has faced for his trips to North Korea, "I think it's worth it."

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NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- A massive fire at a residential high-rise building in London last week that killed dozens was caused by a faulty refrigerator, police said Friday.

Detective superintendent Fiona McCormack of London's Metropolitan Police Service said at news conference Friday that the deadly blaze started in a HotPoint fridge-freezer, model no. FF175P, that was not previously subject to a product recall. The manufacturer will conduct further testing on the appliance, McCormack said.

Evidence indicates the initial flames from the fridge-freezer were not started deliberately. Witnesses interviewed by police described hearing one resident claim his appliance was responsible, according to McCormack.

But investigators are still trying to determine how the blaze grew so quickly.

"Our investigation is seeking to establish how the fire started and the speed that it spread as it took hold of the building," McCormack told reporters. "We have been told the speed it spread at was unexpected, so importantly we will establish why this happened."

Investigators believe the fire on June 14 started around 1 a.m. local time on the fourth floor of the 24-story Grenfell Tower. The London Fire Brigade dispatched more than 200 firefighters, at least 40 fire engines and about 20 ambulance crews in an effort to battle the flames that engulfed the apartment building in the West London neighborhood of North Kensington.

At least 79 people are missing and presumed dead from the conflagration. Nine of the deceased have now been formally identified, but McCormack said investigators may never be able to identify all of the victims.

In addition to those killed, the inferno injured at least 74 people.

The Metropolitan Police Service, which is leading the investigation, is examining the construction of the building, including its recent refurbishment. Samples of the Grenfell Tower's aluminum composite tiles and insulation were analyzed and have failed all safety tests, according to McCormack.

"Preliminary tests show the insulation samples collected from Grenfell Tower combusted soon after the test started," she told reporters at the news conference. "The initial tests on equivalent aluminum composite tiles failed the safety tests."

Investigators will now try to determine whether the use of those materials was illegal, McCormack added.

McCormack also told reporters that police are considering manslaughter charges among the criminal offenses.

"We will identify and investigate any criminal offense and, of course, given the deaths of so many people we are considering manslaughter, as well as criminal offenses and breaches of legislation and regulations," she said.

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iStock/Thinkstock(MOSUL, Iraq) -- The Great Mosque of al-Nuri and its iconic leaning minaret, which has towered over Iraq's second-largest city for over eight centuries, was destroyed by ISIS militants late Wednesday, according to Iraqi officials.

It was there at the pulpit of the landmark mosque three years ago that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi delivered a public sermon and declared a "caliphate" after his jihadist fighters overran Mosul while seizing swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria.

The black flag of Baghdadi's hard-line Sunni Muslim militant group had been flying over the mosque's 150-foot minaret since June 2014.

In a statement Wednesday night, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said ISIS had signaled a "formal declaration of defeat" by blowing up the al-Nuri mosque and its al-Habda minaret, known to locals as "the hunchback" for its titled structure. The mosque is believed to have stood for nearly 850 years.

Through its Amaq News Agency, ISIS claimed a U.S. airstrike leveled the symbolic site.

But the Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve, the formal name for the U.S.-led military coalition helping to fight ISIS in Iraq and Syria, said in a press release Wednesday night that the militants destroyed the mosque as they retreated from the area, citing the Iraqi government.

"As our Iraqi Security Force partners closed in on the al-Nuri mosque, ISIS destroyed one of Mosul and Iraq's great treasures,” said Maj. Gen. Joseph Martin, the commanding general of the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq and Syria. “This is a crime against the people of Mosul and all of Iraq, and is an example of why this brutal organization must be annihilated."

“The responsibility of this devastation is laid firmly at the doorstep of ISIS, and we continue to support our Iraqi partners as they bring these terrorists to justice. However, the battle for the liberation of Mosul is not yet complete, and we remain focused on supporting the ISF with that objective in mind," Martin added.

Lt. Gen. Steve Townsend, who commands the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq and Syria, said he caught one last glimpse of al-Nuri mosque not long before he learned it had been demolished.

"I was just in Mosul Wednesday afternoon and close enough to see the mosque and its famous leaning minaret. Little did I know it was for the last time," Townsend told ABC News. "This is just another example that ISIS is a cruel, heartless and godless ideology that cannot be permitted to exist in this world."

The battle to retake Mosul was launched more than eight months ago. The U.S.-led coalition said its forces have so far helped Iraq reclaim over 47,000 square kilometers (about 18,000 square miles) of their land from ISIS.

The mosque's destruction came after Iraqi forces launched an invasion of western Mosul's Old City earlier this week, the last stronghold of ISIS in its self-declared "caliphate" in Iraq. An estimated 100,000 civilians are effectively being held there as "human shields" by ISIS fighters, according to the United Nation's refugee agency.

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TongRo Images/Thinkstock(BEIJING) -- A toddler running in the middle of a road was swept up by a nearby traffic cop today in southwest China.

As seen in surveillance video footage, a toddler jumps off a motorcycle and runs into the busy intersection.

A black car can be seen driving down the street in the direction of the 2-year-old boy. As the video shows, a traffic policeman runs toward the toddler and grabs him before the car gets there, possibly preventing a tragic crash. The car does slow down as the driver sees the policeman running.

Long Guangliang, the policeman who saved the child, said he didn't even think before he hurried to help.

According to the Tongren Public Security Bureau, the 2-year-old boy ran into the road because he thought he saw his mother across the street.



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PeterHermesFurian/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- North Korea has held yet another missile test on Wednesday, a U.S. official says.

According to the official, North Korea conducted a static rocket engine test at its Sohae launch facility. It marked the first such test since March.

The test would have involved the upper stage of a multi-stage rocket for use either as a space launch or as an intercontinental ballistic missile.

Separately, at the Punggye-Ri underground nuclear test site, activity earlier this week has been followed by little change. The U.S. official said that it is unclear whether the earlier activity indicates an inspection of the facility, or a coming nuclear test.

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kylieellway/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A regional leader for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula was killed last week in a U.S.-led airstrike, the U.S. military announced Thursday.

According to U.S. Central Command, a June 16 airstrike killed Abu Khattab al Awlaqi, the top AQAP leader in Shabwah Governorate of Yemen. The strike was aimed at disrupting terrorist compounds and attacking networks within Yemen.

Centcom says that Awlaqi was responsible for planning and conducting terrorist attacks against civilians, and had significant influence throught AQAP's infrastructure.

The U.S. has conducted a series of counterterrorism operations in Yemen in coordination with the Yemeni government.

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Jonathan Brady/WPA Pool-Getty Images(LONDON) -- Prince Harry reveals in a candid new interview that he believes no one in the royal family wants to be king or queen.

"We are involved in modernizing the British monarchy. We are not doing this for ourselves but for the greater good of the people," Harry told Newsweek magazine. "Is there any one of the royal family who wants to be king or queen? I don't think so, but we will carry out our duties at the right time."

Harry, the fifth in line to the British throne, has made no secret about the downsides of being a royal but in the interview called the monarchy a "force for good."

Speaking of his grandmother, 91-year-old Queen Elizabeth II, he said, "We want to carry on the positive atmosphere that the queen has achieved for over 60 years, but we won’t be trying to fill her boots.”

The 32-year-old prince was also remarkably open about one of the most traumatic days of his life, the funeral of his mother, Princess Diana, and the decision to have him, then 12, and his brother Prince William, then 15, walk behind their mother's coffin in a public procession.

"My mother had just died, and I had to walk a long way behind her coffin, surrounded by thousands of people watching me while millions more did on television,” Harry said. “I don’t think any child should be asked to do that, under any circumstances. I don't think it would happen today."

That moment shaped his life. Harry admitted earlier this year the "total chaos" and near breakdown he had after Diana's death. He credited William, 35, with encouraging him to get counseling to deal with his grief.

Harry and William harnessed that energy to launch, with Duchess Kate, the Heads Together charity that aims to break down the stigma surrounding mental health.

"My mother died when I was very young. I didn't want to be in the position I was in, but I eventually pulled my head out of the sand, started listening to people and decided to use my role for good. I am now fired up and energized and love charity stuff, meeting people and making them laugh,” Harry told Newsweek. “I sometimes still feel I am living in a goldfish bowl, but I now manage it better."

He added, "I still have a naughty streak too, which I enjoy and is how I relate to those individuals who have got themselves into trouble.”

Harry also credits Princess Diana, who was just 36 when she died, with instilling in him the values he carries around in his everyday life, an appreciation for an ordinary life and making privacy a high priority. Diana was famously called the "Princess of Hearts" for her humanitarian work and Harry has earned the nickname the "Prince of Hearts" for his own compassionate charity work.

"My mother took a huge part in showing me an ordinary life, including taking me and my brother to see homeless people," he said. "Thank goodness I’m not completely cut off from reality. People would be amazed by the ordinary life William and I live."

Harry, who has been snapped several times with a baseball cap on buying groceries at supermarkets close to Kensington Palace, confirmed to Newsweek that he does his own grocery shopping.

"I am determined to have a relatively normal life, and if I am lucky enough to have children, they can have one too," said Harry, who is dating American actress Meghan Markle. "Even if I was king, I would do my own shopping.”

Even with his attempts to live a normal life, Harry conceded that preserving the "magic" of the monarchy is still a vital part of the institution.

"We don’t want to dilute the magic," Harry said. "The British public and the whole world need institutions like it.”

Harry, an uncle to Prince George and Princess Charlotte, has made no secret of his desire for children. Now, speculation is mounting that Harry is ready to settle down and propose to Markle, whom he began dating last summer.

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iStock/Thinkstock(BEIJING) -- Northwest China just got three new residents.

Three panda cubs were born in China at the Shaanxi Rare Wild Animals Rescue and Breeding Research Center last week. They now weigh 11.2 ounces, according to the center, and are all healthy.

Their mother, 14-year-old Yang Yang, is not a first-time mother. According to the center, she also gave birth in 2009 and 2014.

The center's vet, Ma Qingyi, said two other female pandas there are expecting bundles of joy soon.

According to the Shaanxi Province's forestry department, Yang Yang and her cubs are among 22 captive giant pandas in the area. The province also has 345 wild pandas living in a nearly 890,000-acre habitat.

Giant pandas typically live 20 to 30 years in captivity, according to Chinese wildlife sources.

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US State Department(WASHINGTON) -- After a day of meetings with top Chinese officials, Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the U.S. and China have made progress on a handful of issues and are pushing ahead on pressuring North Korea -- despite President Donald Trump’s claim that “it has not worked.”

“China continues to work these issues,” Mattis told reporters.

“They have a diplomatic responsibility to assert much greater economic and diplomatic pressure on the regime if they want to prevent further escalation in the region,” said Tillerson, at Mattis's side.

While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out. At least I know China tried!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 20, 2017


So what did Trump mean by his tweet on Tuesday then?

“He represents the American people’s view of North Korea right now,” said Mattis, referencing anger over the death of Otto Warmbier, held captive by the regime for over a year.

“We see a young man go over there healthy, and with a minor act of mischief, come home dead, basically. ... What you’re seeing, I think, is the American people’s frustration with a regime that provokes and provokes and provokes and basically plays outside the rules, plays fast and loose with the truth,” he said.

It was another strongly worded warning to North Korea, but given the administration's different statements, it’s unclear what it will do next.

For his part, Tillerson doubled down on the current strategy, saying both the U.S. and China agreed to stop doing business with U.N.-sanctioned North Koreans. But with their Chinese counterparts absent from the press conference, there was no word from China on whether or not they will finally fully do that.

“We reaffirmed our commitment to implement in full all relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions. For example, we both agree that our companies should not do business with any U.N.-designated North Korean entities,” said Tillerson -- adding more positive spin on the summit later when he said two delegations also had a “frank exchange of views” on the South China Sea, but that China said it was committed to resolving the disputes there peacefully.

In the meantime, the U.S. will continue to fly, sail and operate wherever the freedom of navigation allows, according to Mattis.

In general, both secretaries praised their summit, formally known as the Diplomatic and Security Dialogue, for involving higher level officials in both civilian and military posts than in the past and for laying the groundwork for greater engagement, better communication and reducing the risk of dangerous incidents going forward. Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi and Gen. Fang Fenghui, the chief of the People's Liberation Army's Joint Staff, led their country’s delegation.

The American delegation also included Amb. Joseph Yun, who just returned from North Korea to secure Warmbier’s release; Amb. Terry Branstad, the longtime Iowa governor who will soon begin his time as ambassador to China; and Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“This has been a unique opportunity for our nations to engage in philosophical level discussions about how we discuss these issues and discuss the way ahead,” said Mattis. “While competition between our nations is bound to occur, conflict is not inevitable.”

Wednesday’s meetings consisted of four working sessions, each focused on a couple of top security issues, like North Korea and the South China Sea.

The U.S. wants China to do more on defeating ISIS as well -- in particular, helping the Iraqi government to ensure long-term stability and economic growth, according to Tillerson.

Tillerson also made a public nudge on human rights, something he’s been hesitant to do otherwise.

“We will not be shy about raising our concerns about China’s human rights record, and I was direct and candid in our meetings today,” he said.

Later in the year, high-level representatives from both countries will meet for an economic dialogue, a law enforcement and cyber dialogue, and a social and people-to-people dialogue.

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dk_photos/iStock/Thinkstock(BAGHDAD) -- ISIS has destroyed a historic mosque in western Mosul, the U.S. military announced on Wednesday.

The destruction of the Great Mosque of al-Nuri was announced by the Iraqi government on Wednesday. That mosque was the site where ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made his speech calling for a caliphate on July 4, 2014.

The mosque stood in Mosul for more than eight centuries.

"As our Iraqi Security Force partners closed in on the al-Nuri mosque, ISIS destroyed one of Mosul and Iraq's great treasures," Maj. Gen. Joseph Martin, Commanding General of the Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command - Operation Inherent Resolve, said.

U.S. and Coalition Commander in Iraq and Syria, Lt. Gen. Steve Townsend called the news "sad."

"I was just in Mosul Wednesday afternoon and close enough to see the mosque and its famous leaning minaret. Little did I know it was for the last time. This is just another example that ISIS is a cruel, heartless and god-less ideology that cannot be permitted to exist in the world."

"This is a crime against the people of Mosul and all of Iraq, and is an example of why this brutal organization must be annihilated," Martin added.

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ronniechua/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The Russian deputy foreign minister has canceled his meeting with his American counterpart –- a long-planned summit to address more minor problems in the relationship –- because of the updated U.S. sanctions announced Tuesday.

Undersecretary of State Tom Shannon is traveling to London on Wednesday, but he will not continue on to St. Petersburg Friday, as previously scheduled. The State Department officially announced his travel Tuesday, seemingly caught off guard by Russia’s cancellation that dealt a serious blow to the Trump administration’s efforts to improve relations.

In a strongly worded statement, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Rybakov said Russia was canceling the meeting because the U.S. ruined the circumstances by announcing updated sanctions this week, and by not returning two Russian diplomatic compounds in Maryland and New York.

"The new American jab will not go without reaction from our side, including practical reciprocal measures," he warned.

Rybakov went on to rail against America for the current state of poor relations between the two countries and declare that sanctions will never force Russia to "submit."

"In the U.S., of course, they can further soothe themselves with the illusions that they can 'pressure' Russia. Many previous 'waves' of American sanctions have not brought the result on which their initiators counted. Just as futile will be any new attempts to force the Russian side to 'submit,'" he said.

But the State Department fired back, offering a strong defense of those sanctions, while clarifying that the announcement Tuesday simply brought them up to date without adding anything new. The Treasury Department announced Tuesday that it was adding 38 pro-Russian individuals and entities to existing sanctions against Russia.

"Let’s remember that these sanctions didn’t just come out of nowhere. Our targeted sanctions were imposed in response to Russia’s ongoing violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of its neighbor, Ukraine. If the Russians seek an end to these sanctions, they know very well the U.S. position," said State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert in her own strongly worded statement.

She added that the U.S. remains open to future discussions, but those sanctions will remain until Russia ends its occupation of Crimea and meets its obligations under the Ukrainian peace deal known as the Minsk agreement.

President Trump and his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have been advocating for improving relations with Russia, arguing that the world's two greatest nuclear powers should not be at odds and that there are areas of common grounds, like fighting ISIS.

The planned meeting between Shannon and Rybakov would have been the second, after a May meeting in New York. The two senior officials were tasked by their bosses, Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, to lead a working group to deal with "irritants" in the relationship -– including the Russian diplomatic compounds.

The State Department confirmed earlier this month that returning those compounds would have been part of the discussions at Friday’s summit, despite bipartisan calls on Capitol Hill not to do so. Now, it seems, their return has become more uncertain.

In addition to the current updated sanctions, the Senate voted overwhelmingly in favor of a bill last week that would expand sanctions on Russia and prevent the administration from making changes to any Russian sanctions without Congressional approval. The White House hasn't said if the president would sign the bill, but the Republican House leadership has held it up, citing a procedural issue that will delay a vote for now.

Tillerson had expressed reservation about the legislation when testifying on the Hill last week, saying he needed "the flexibility to turn the heat up when we need to, but also to ensure that we have the ability to maintain a constructive dialogue."

After Russia scrapped Friday's summit, any sort of dialogue is expected to become more difficult.

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Photo by Amos Ben Gershom/GPO via Getty Images(JERUSALEM) -- Jared Kushner, President Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, arrived in Israel Wednesday morning to begin a trip aimed at moving toward a peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians.

The trip, which comes as Kushner faces increased scrutiny over his connections to Russia amid the investigation into that country's interference in the 2016 election, provides an opportunity for the 36-year-old to make a mark in an area of diplomacy in which his father-in-law has high hopes.

In an interview with the New York Times in November, Trump said he “would love to be able to be the one that made peace with Israel and the Palestinians" adding that it "would be such a great achievement.”

Kushner, who is Jewish, “knows the region, knows the people, knows the players,” Trump told the Times in the same interview. The night before his inauguration, Trump reportedly told Kushner, “If you can’t produce peace in the Middle East, nobody can.”

Kusher met with Prime Minister Netanyahu soon after his arrival Wednesday. Netanyahu's spokesperson, Ofir Gendelman, tweeted a video of the start of their meeting.

Video: PM Netanyahu at the start of his meeting with Jared Kushner, @jdgreenblatt45 and US Ambasador to Israel David Friedman. pic.twitter.com/wDRJ85DHt3

— Ofir Gendelman (@ofirgendelman) June 21, 2017


“This is an opportunity to pursue our common goals of security, prosperity, and peace,” Netanyahu told Kushner. “I know of your efforts and the President’s efforts, and I look forward to working with you to achieve these common goals.”

In reference to Trump’s earlier trip to the Middle East, Netanyahu said the president “made an indelible impression on the people of Israel.”

“The president sends his best regards and it’s an honor to be here with you,” said Kushner.

Kushner's arrival in Israel comes at a contentious time in Israeli-Palestinian relations. Netanyahu said on Tuesday that Israel had broken ground on its first new settlement in two decades in the West Bank. This comes after an Israeli Supreme Court ruling in February to uproot the Amona settlement.

On Wednesday morning, Kushner also met with the family of Hadas Malka, the 23-year-old border police officer who was stabbed to death by a Palestinian attacker near Damascus Gate on Friday. Kushner said he was personally asked by Trump to express his condolences to her grieving family. He was accompanied by the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman.

Kusher will later travel to Ramallah in the West Bank and speak with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

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Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(BRUSSELS) -- The man who was shot dead at a Brussels train station Tuesday after attempting to explode a suitcase of nails and gas canisters was unknown to authorities as a terror suspect, a Belgian prosecutor said Wednesday.

The would-be attacker -- identified by the initials "O.Z." -- was a 36-year-old of Moroccan origin, Brussels federal prosecutor Eric Van der Sypt said at a news conference Wednesday morning. He said the man was not known to authorities to be involved in any terror activities, but the prosecutor did not comment on whether he had a criminal record.

Van der Sypt said the man's home in the Molenbeek district of Brussels had been searched after the attack.

The man entered Brussels Central Station at 8:39 p.m. local time holding a suitcase and headed toward a group of people, Van der Sypt said. Five minutes later, his suitcase caught fire after a small explosion ignited in which no one was injured.

The attacker then ran down a flight of stairs toward a station employee and a soldier, Van der Sypt said. His suitcase exploded again.

As the attacker screamed "Allahu Akbar,” or “God is great,” in Arabic, a soldier shot the suspect several times, killing him.

The federal prosecutor said the man was not wearing an explosive belt, contrary to initial reports, and that he was carrying only the case that was full of nails and small gas canisters.

"It was clear he wanted to cause much more damage than what happened," Van der Sypt said. "The bag exploded twice but it could have been a lot worse."

The train station has reopened after closing Tuesday night in the aftermath of the incident.

The country's terror level remains at three, signifying a serious and likely threat.

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Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images(LONDON) -- Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, was admitted to King Edward VII Hospital in London on Tuesday night as a "precautionary measure" for treatment of an infection arising from a pre-existing condition, a Buckingham Palace spokesperson told ABC News.

The Duke of Edinburgh, who turned 96 this month, is in good spirits and was said to be disappointed to have to miss the State Opening of Parliament and Royal Ascot.

In Philip's place, Charles, the Prince of Wales, will accompany the queen to the State Opening.

Last month, Prince Philip announced that he would be stepping down from public life in the fall.

Prince Philip was admitted to the hospital in 2013 for an exploratory abdominal surgery.

In 2012, he was admitted to the hospital during the queen's Diamond Jubilee for a bladder infection, an ailment that affected him again in 2015.

In 2011, he underwent a "minimally invasive procedure of coronary stenting," which was successfully performed after he was taken to the hospital suffering from chest pains.

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