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National Guard(KANDAHAR, Afghanistan) -- Army Brigadier General Jeffrey D. Smiley was the wounded U.S. service member shot in Thursday's insider attack in Kandahar that killed two top Afghan officials in the province. The top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan was also present during that attack, but was unharmed.

"I can confirm that General Smiley is recovering from a gunshot wound," Lt. Cmdr. Grant Neeley, a spokesman for Resolute Support, the NATO-led training command in Afghanistan, told ABC News.

"He is being treated at a Resolute Support hospital in Kandahar," said Neeley.

Smiley is the commander of the Training and Advise and Assist Command-South (TAAC-South) that has the lead in advising Afghan security forces in southern Afghanistan and had assumed command in late June. He is a general with the California National Guard, in command of the Guard’s 40th Infantry, which is one of the lead units in Kandahar.

New details of top US general's close call in Afghanistan insider attack

The identity of the U.S. service member injured in the attack had not been disclosed until Sunday after it was first reported by the Washington Post.

Carried out by a gunman believed to be an Afghan bodyguard, Thursday's attack killed the top police official in Kandahar Province as well as the province's top intelligence official. The governor of Kandahar was also wounded, as was another American civilian employee and an Afghan interpreter.

General Austin Scott Miller, the top U.S. general in Afghanistan, was present during the shooting that started after his meeting with the Afghan officials.

The gunman opened fire as they waited outside for Miller's helicopter to arrive. The gunman was shot and killed almost immediately.

Miller told reporters Friday that he believes that the Afghan officials were the targets of the attack.

Miller, like the other U.S. personnel around him, pulled out his handgun, which is standard practice in such a situation.

"When there’s a threat, we will draw our weapons,” said Col. Dave Butler, a Resolute Support spokesman. "That’s what we’re trained to do and Gen. Miller is no exception."

What followed was a combination of U.S. and Afghan forces securing the area and tending to the wounded.

Miller had some of the wounded transported aboard his helicopter so they could quickly receive medical treatment.

The Taliban quickly claimed responsibility for the attack that appeared to be the closest a U.S. commanding general in Afghanistan has come to being shot or seriously harmed.

The insider attack delayed the key parliamentary elections in Kandahar by a week, they proceeded on schedule Saturday in the rest of the country.

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Matt Gutman/ABC News(TAPACHULA, Mexico) -- A caravan of thousands of footsore Central American migrants who say they are seeking refuge from violence in their countries was moving north Sunday under the close watch of an army of Mexican federal police in riot gear.

Mexican officials said federal police were staying in front of the caravan, which stretched about two miles and comprised mostly of people from Honduras and Guatemala many of whom say they are determined to reach the U.S. border 1,700 miles away.

Those officers, transported in a convoy of tour buses and reinforced with riot police from across the country, have announced they will not let the migrants pass a small town near the border.

"Full efforts are being made to stop the onslaught of illegal aliens from crossing [the border]," President Trump tweeted Sunday afternoon. People have to apply for asylum in Mexico first, and if they fail to do that, the U.S. will turn them away. The courts are asking the U.S. to do things that are not doable!"

The phalanx of police, supported by Mexican military Blackhawk helicopters overhead, was bracing for a repeat of the violent clashes that occurred on Friday when the caravan stormed and overran a crossing at the Suchiate River at the border of Guatemala and Mexico. Members of the caravan crossed into Mexico illegally by either forcing their way through a border fence or jumping into the river and swimming to the Mexico side.

"Donald Trump, we don't want to cause you any problem, we just want to get a job. Help us," one young migrant told ABC News as he and hundreds of others walked along a road near Tapachula, Mexico.

Among the thousands of migrants are families. Fathers and mothers carrying sweating children on their shoulders, shielding them from the ferocious sun with blankets or their hands. ABC News saw at least one toddler splayed out on the highway sleeping, his father too tired to go on.

Most were carrying small backpacks and plastic bags. They moved forward on battered shoes, some were barefoot.

In a series of tweets last week, President Donald Trump threatened to “call up the U.S. military and close our SOUTHERN BORDER” if Mexico doesn’t do anything to stop the flow of migrants.

In late April and early May, a much smaller migrant caravan made it all the way to the U.S.-Mexico border, but only a handful of the asylum seekers were processed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Trump was critical of the caravan and in a series of tweets slammed "Democrat-inspired laws on sanctuary cities" for encouraging such disparate activities.

"Are you watching that mess that's going on right now with the caravan coming up? Are you watching this and our laws are so weak, they're, so pathetic?" Trump said at a rally on April 28 in Michigan.

Trump continued on Sunday to blame Democrats.

"The Caravans are a disgrace to the Democrat Party," the president tweeted on Sunday. "Change the immigration laws NOW!"

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement Sunday morning that she and other U.S. officials are monitoring the caravan's progress and are concerned about criminals infiltrating the group.

“While we closely monitor the caravan crisis, we must remain mindful of the transnational criminal organizations and other criminals that prey on the vulnerabilities of those undertaking the irregular migration journey," Nielsen said in her statement.

"We shall work with our partners in the region to investigate and prosecute to the fullest extent of the law all who seek to encourage and profit from irregular migration," Nielsen said. "We fully support the efforts of Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico, as they seek to address this critical situation and ensure a safer and more secure region."

Most of the migrants ABC News spoke to say they want to march all the way to the United States.

Maria Juaqina, 19, was toting her toddler. She says she has family in Los Angeles, and that “only God can open the doors.”

Mexico says it's willing to open its doors, temporarily. Mexican police officials used bullhorns Sunday to warn the migrants they were illegally proceeding north. The migrants were advised to apply for asylum in order to get temporary status to legally stay in Mexico.

"You cannot go all around the country like this," the officials on bullhorns shouted at the movable mass of humanity. "You can go to immigration camps or shelters, so we can establish your cases."

Mexican asylum status grants migrants a 45-day stay.

Many in the caravan told ABC News that they feared being deported if they voluntarily went to a shelter or immigration camp. Some were demanding proof that they will not be returned home.

The Mexican Interior Ministry said on Saturday that 640 Honduran migrants have requested refuge in Mexico.

The ministry also said that priority would be given to "164 women, some of them in advanced stage of pregnancy; 104 girls, boys and teenagers, who are from 3 months old to 17 years old; as well as older adults who have varying degrees of disability. This group includes a minor  who traveled alone."

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee said he expects President Trump to ultimately accept Saudi Arabia's denials of the crown prince's involvement in the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on This Week Sunday, "I think we can see where this is headed. Ultimately, the president is going to accept the crown prince’s denials, but it's hard for me to imagine that these orders would have been carried out without the knowledge of" Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

"I think this ought to be a relationship-altering event for the U.S. and Saudi Arabia," Schiff added.

Both Schiff and a fellow committee member -- Congressman Peter King, R-N.Y., who also appeared on This Week -- said the Saudis' latest explanation that Khashoggi died in a fight at the country's consulate in Istanbul early this month was not believable.

“I can tell you I don't find this Saudi account credible at all,” Schiff said. “There's simply no way they dispatched a team this large and that Khashoggi engaged in some kind of a brawl with them unless he was merely fighting for his life.”

“They could have brought him down in a matter of seconds without causing any physical harm at all,” King added. “So obviously there was an intent, I believe, to kill him.”

The two congressmen also agreed that the U.S. should take action against Saudi Arabia in response to Khashoggi's death.

“Let me make it clear: I think the Saudis are the most amoral government that we've ever had to deal with," King said. “What Saudi Arabia did was savage, was evil” and needs “to be condemned.”

Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist who was critical of the country's current government, has not been seen since entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

Saudi Arabia initially contended he had left the consulate the same day, but its government changed its story on Friday and said Khashoggi, who has been living in the U.S. and serving as a columnist for The Washington Post, was killed in the consulate after an argument led to a fistfight. The Saudis also said Khashoggi was interested in returning to Saudi Arabia, something his close friends have denied.

Five top Saudi government officials have been fired and 18 Saudi citizens detained in connection to Khashoggi’s murder, according to the country’s state-run news agency.

Khashoggi’s editor at The Washington Post said on This Week that she believes that the Saudi response is an effort to cover up what happened rather than to shed light on the incident.

“I still believe, and the Post as an institution still believes, that this is not an explanation; this is an attempt at a cover-up," said Washington Post Global Opinions Editor Karen Attiah. "So much doesn't add up for me personally, who knew Jamal, worked with Jamal over the last year.”

She said key elements of the Saudi story, including that Khashoggi wanted to return to Saudi Arabia and engaged in a brawl at the consulate run, counter to everything she knew about him.

“This idea that he wanted to return to Saudi Arabia is absolutely untrue. There is a reason why he came to Washington and felt free in Washington,” Attiah said. “This idea that a brawl, you know, this man who is kind and calm and gentle, that any sort of brawl took place that was equal -- if anything, if we're going to give any sort of credence to this, he walked into an ambush that was set up for him.”

On Saturday, President Trump, in a phone interview with the Post, criticized the Saudi government’s explanation of Khashoggi’s death, telling the paper, “Obviously there’s been deception, and there’s been lies.”

While the president cast doubt on the country’s changing narrative surrounding the columnist’s death, he also told the Post that Saudi Arabia is an “incredible ally” and was undecided on whether the crown prince had a role in Khashoggi’s killing, saying, “Nobody has told me he’s responsible. Nobody has told me he’s not responsible."

Schiff told Stephanopoulos on Sunday, “We're never going to know exactly what took place in terms of the crown prince's marching orders for this group unless we get a confession from the crown prince, which is not going to happen."

Schiff added that he believes the Trump family implicitly sent a message to the Saudi royal family prior to Khashoggi's killing that it could act with impunity.

“I think part of why we are where we are is that we have essentially delivered a message through the Trump family that it's carte blanche for the Saudi family. They can do what they want, where they want -- and the U.S. will never stand up to them," Schiff said. "That kind of a policy has got to come to an end."

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Chris McGrath/Getty Images(ISTANBUL) -- Several of the largest human rights organizations in the world are calling for a U.N. investigation into the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The groups, including Amnesty International, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders, called for Turkey to push the U.N. to begin an investigation into Khashoggi's death, which took place at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

Khashoggi, a regular critic of the Saudi royal family, worked as a columnist for The Washington Post. He had been living in the United States after fleeing Saudi Arabia in September 2017.

Saudi Arabia's public prosecutor announced Friday that an initial investigation revealed that discussions between Khashoggi and the individuals who met with him at the consulate led to an argument and a fistfight -- which resulted in the journalist's death, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

Turkish officials have said 15 Saudi men flew to Turkey for the express interest of meeting Khashoggi at the consulate, where he was visiting to fill out paperwork for his impending marriage. His fiancée was waiting in a car outside the consulate at the time of his killing.

Saudi Arabia initially denied any involvement in the journalist's disappearance, before announcing the findings of the investigation on Friday. The county said 18 people were detained in connection with Khashoggi's killing and several top officials were dismissed from their positions.

The handful of human rights organizations are calling for an independent investigation to avoid a "Saudi whitewash" of the facts.

"Turkey should enlist the U.N. to initiate a timely, credible and transparent investigation," Robert Mahoney, deputy executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, said in a statement released by Amnesty International. "U.N. involvement is the best guarantee against a Saudi whitewash or attempts by other governments to sweep the issue under the carpet to preserve lucrative business ties with Riyadh."

There was no mention of President Trump or the U.S. in the press release, though Trump seemed to accept denials from Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman and King Salman earlier in the week.

He told reporters on Friday that he found the Saudi investigation "credible."

Trump also denied having any business ties to Saudi Arabia, though he actually bragged publicly about Saudis buying properties he owns at a rally in August 2015.

The president walked back some of the apparent willingness to believe the Saudi ruling family in an interview with The Washington Post late Saturday.

He told the Post there has been "deception" and "lies" by the Saudis.

A friend of Khashoggi described a much more brutal killing of Khashoggi than the official account given by Saudi Arabia.

"I talked with some Turkish government and security officials, and they said Jamal was killed. I didn't know what to do. I really couldn't answer. Then I called a few colleagues -- again, security officials -- trying to have them verify it, saying, 'Is this really true?'" his friend Turan Kislakci told ABC News on Wednesday. "They said, 'Yes, Turan, and let's tell you even beyond that, he was killed in a very barbaric way.' I was shocked. They not only kill him in the consulate, but also in a barbaric way."

Amnesty International cited the 2008 investigation into the murder of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto as setting precedent for the U.N. to get involved in the Khashoggi killing.

"An investigation into Khashoggi’s enforced disappearance and possible murder should start promptly and be thorough, impartial, and independent," Amnesty International wrote. "U.N. Secretary-General [António] Guterres should appoint a senior criminal investigator with extensive experience in international investigations to head the team. Once the investigation is concluded, the secretary-general should issue a public report on the overall findings along with his recommendations for following up."

The U.N. said Guterres was "deeply troubled" by the journalist's killing in a statement issued by a spokesman on Friday, but did not commit to an investigation specifically by the U.N.

"The secretary-general is deeply troubled by the confirmation of the death of Jamal Khashoggi. He extends his condolences to Mr. Khashoggi’s family and friends," Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for the secretary-general, said. "The secretary-general stresses the need for a prompt, thorough and transparent investigation into the circumstances of Mr. Khashoggi’s death and full accountability for those responsible."

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Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Duchess Meghan will be cutting back on several engagements on the couple's grueling 16-day Royal Tour.

“After a busy programme, the Duke and Duchess have decided to cut back the Duchess' schedule slightly for the next couple of days, ahead of the final week-and-a-half of the tour," Kensington Palace announced in a statement on Saturday evening, or Sunday morning in Sydney, Australia.

"The Duke will attend the cycling as scheduled this morning, and the Duchess will join him for this afternoon's engagements," the statement continued. "The Duke will continue with the engagements on Fraser Island," a reference to an island off the eastern coast of Australia, near Brisbane.

The Duchess of Sussex was expected to attend the Invictus Games cycling events in Sydney, but pulled out because she was tired.

The couple announced the Duchess' pregnancy at the start of their four-nation tour last Monday. She is believed to be about 14 weeks along in her pregnancy.

A source told ABC News that "she’s feeling fine but resting."

Harry and Meghan had a very late night after the Invictus Games opening ceremony was delayed due to an electrical storm.

Earlier this week, Meghan revealed that she gets up at 4:30 a.m. to do yoga -- noting that it was "so good for healing your mind."

She also talked about how she does yoga daily, and how being pregnant was “like having jet lag without actually traveling.”

Meghan will be traveling to Fraser Island but is not expected to participate in any engagements while Harry carries on with the original schedule.

Kensington Palace has not clarified to date whether the Duchess will carry on her full itinerary at upcoming stops in Fiji and Tonga.

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John Moore/Getty Images(TECUN UMAN, Guatemala) -- As the caravan of Central American migrants enters Mexico, a senior Trump administration official praised the Mexican police for their handling of the "crisis on their southern border."

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kristjen Nielsen tweeted that DHS would continue "to support our Mexican partners as they take steps to confront the crisis on their southern border. The Mexican federal police are handling this in a professional and humane manner."

She added in a subsequent tweet that she has been in “constant contact” with her foreign counterparts in Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras, and that her department was monitoring the situation and ready to provide assistance if necessary.

Thousands of migrants reached the Guatemala-Mexico border on Friday, breaking through a fence on the Guatemala side of a bridge separating the two countries. On the Mexican side of the bridge, they were met by Mexican police in riot gear. Others, meanwhile, waded into the Suchiate River or took rafts to get to Mexico.

Many of the migrants are seeking refugee status in either Mexico or the United States.

The Mexican Interior Ministry said on Saturday that 640 Honduran migrants have requested refuge in Mexico. It also said that priority attention would be given "164 women, some of them in advanced stage of pregnancy; 104 girls, boys and teenagers, who are from 3 months old to 17 years old; as well as older adults who have varying degrees of disability. This group includes a minor who traveled alone."

President Trump threatened in a series of tweets on Thursday to “call up the U.S. military and close our SOUTHERN BORDER” if Mexico doesn’t do anything to stop the flow of migrants moving north.

The president also blamed Democrats at a rally on Friday night in Arizona for the illegal border crossings.

Yet, it seems that Mexico will continue to process migrants. The Interior Ministry said in its statement that migrants will begin the refugee application process at the country’s National Institute of Migration, where their data will be collected, before they are sent to shelters that have been “enabled for their accommodation.”

The Mexican government also released handout video of migrants on a bus being told by an official that they would be assisted in being processed for any asylum claims they may have.

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Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images(NEW YORK) --  Eighteen Saudi citizens have been detained in connection with the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, according to Saudi Arabia's state-run news agency.

Khashoggi disappeared after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

An initial investigation has revealed that discussions between Khashoggi and the individuals who met with him at the consulate led to an argument and a fist fight -- which resulted in the journalist's death -- Saudi Arabia's public prosecutor said in a statement, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

Investigators are working to hold those involved with Khashoggi's death responsible, according to the statement.

Turkish officials have claimed that a group of 15 Saudi men flew to Istanbul at the time of Khashoggi's disappearance.

At least one of the suspects traveled to Istanbul for the purpose of meeting with Khashoggi, according to a statement from the Saudi Press Agency. The suspects then attempted to "conceal and cover" what happened, the statement read.

Khashoggi, an opinion columnist for The Washington Post, has written critically of Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman and the Saudi government.

The White House acknowledged the Saudis' announcement, stating that it would "continue to closely follow the international investigations into this tragic incident and advocate for justice that is timely, transparent, and in accordance with all due process.

"We are saddened to hear confirmation of Mr. Khashoggi’s death, and we offer our deepest condolences to his family, fiancée, and friends," White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in the statement.

Earlier this week, President Donald Trump cautioned against blaming Saudi Arabia for Khashoggi's disappearance but told reporters Thursday that "it certainly looks like" he was dead.

Saudi Arabia had denied news reports that Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate, but pressure has been building on the Saudi government more than two weeks to explain what happened to him after he entered the consulate earlier this month.

On Friday evening, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham – a key ally of President Donald Trump – posted a tweet registering his skepticism of the Saudi government’s latest account of what happened to Khashoggi.

“To say that I am skeptical of the new Saudi narrative about Mr. Khashoggi is an understatement. First we were told Mr. Khashoggi supposedly left the consulate and there was blanket denial of any Saudi involvement. Now, a fight breaks out and he’s killed in the consulate, all without knowledge of Crown Prince.”

Khashoggi had warned of renewed efforts to silence free press in the Middle East, and his final column, titled, "What the Arab world needs most is free expression," was published on Wednesday.

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PeterHermesFurian/iStock/Thinkstock(KANDAHAR, Afghanistan) -- New details show how close the top U.S. general in Afghanistan was to Thursday's violent insider attack in Kandahar that killed two senior Afghan security officials and wounded the province's governor. Gen. Austin Scott Miller told Friday he believes the attacker was targeting the Afghan officials and expressed confidence that despite the attack Afghan forces will be able to ensure security for key parliamentary elections on Saturday.

The attack killed Gen. Abdul Raziq, the well-known police chief in Kandahar, and Gen. Abdul Mohmin, the top intelligence official in the province. Kandahar's governor Zalmai Wessa was wounded along with three others, including an American service member and an American civilian employee.

On Friday, Miller told the Tolo News Agency that he believes that "what happened in Kandahar was an attack on the security forces."

“My assessment is that I was not the target," Miller said. "It was a very close confined space. But I don’t assess that I was the target.”

The attack occurred shortly after Miller had participated in a meeting with the top civilian and military officials in Kandahar in southern Afghanistan.

The American general and the Afghan officials had moved to an area outside of the governor's residence to await the arrival of the military helicopter that would transport Miller and his staff, according to Col. Dave Butler, a spokesman for Resolute Support, the NATO training mission in Afghanistan.

The group was talking among themselves waiting for Miller's helicopter when, Butler said, a gunman wearing some type of Afghan security uniform opened fire on them with an automatic weapon.

Butler stressed that Miller was not in the shooter’s line of fire and was firing at the Afghan officials.

The gunman was shot immediately. “It was over in seconds,” said Butler.

Miller, like the other U.S. personnel around him, pulled out his handgun, which is standard practice in such a situation.

"When there’s a threat, we will draw our weapons,” said Butler. “That’s what we’re trained to do and Gen. Miller is no exception.”

What followed was a combination of U.S. and Afghan forces securing the area and tending to the wounded.

Miller had some of the wounded transported aboard his helicopter so they could quickly receive medical treatment.

On Friday, in a hospital bedside interview with Afghan reporters Wessa said his health was improving and described the attack as an act of terror.

The attack led to a one-week postponement of parliamentary elections in Kandahar that were scheduled for Saturday.

A day after the attack in Kandahar, Miller was seen on the streets of Kabul greeting Afghan security personnel ahead of Saturday's key parliamentary elections.

Butler said Miller's visit with Afghan forces was intended "to provide some confidence to the Afghan people and security forces.”

Miller expressed confidence that with U.S. and NATO support Afghan security forces will do a good job of providing security for Saturday's election in the rest of the country.

"We will continue our support. My message to the people of Afghanistan has been very consistent: you have every right to be proud of your security forces and the preparations that made for this election despite this unfortunate event, tragic event down in Kandahar,” he said.

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swind/iStock/Thinkstock(FLORENNE, Belgium) -- When it was over, an F-16 lay burnt to a crisp on a tarmac in Belgium.

The pictures tell the story: Mechanics at an Air Force base in Florenne were working on a nearby F-16 last Thursday and accidentally triggered that jet's cannon, which fired at the other plane.

Those rounds struck the recently fueled F-16, which exploded into a fireball. A source told the Belgian broadcaster VRT that one of the mechanics had accidentally fired rounds from the jet's 20-milimeter multi-barrel cannon.

The Belgian Air Force said another F-16 also suffered collateral damage from the rounds.

The two mechanics involved in the incident were treated at the scene for potential hearing loss.

"You can't help thinking of what a disaster this could have been," Col. Didier Polome told Belgian broadcaster RTBF.

The Belgian Air Force said the bizarre incident is being investigated by Belgium's Air Safety Directorate.

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Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images(MOSCOW) -- Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that America's global dominance is coming to an end, with the U.S. itself accelerating that process with a string of mistakes "typical of an empire."

The Russian president, speaking at the Valdai forum in the Black Sea resort town of Sochi, criticized the U.S. for implementing sanctions against Russia and other nations, arguing that doing so undermined trust in the dollar as the world's universal currency.

"It's a typical mistake of an empire," Putin said. "An empire always thinks that it can allow itself to make some little mistakes, take some extra costs, because its power is such that they don't mean anything. But the quantity of those costs, those mistakes inevitably grows.

"And the moment comes when it can't handle them, neither in the security sphere or the economic sphere."

The demise of the United States' global hegemony has been a recurring theme in Putin's speeches over recent years, as the Russian president has painted his nation as leading a new world order as a rising China, along with BRIC nations Brazil and India, gain equal footing.

At a panel session, Putin upbraided the U.S. for its military interventions in the Middle East, saying they had arisen from a dangerous American monopoly on world power.

"Thank God, this situation of a unipolar world, of a monopoly, is coming to an end," Putin said. "It's practically already over."

Putin added that he wasn’t trying to offend anyone with his remarks and that he believed the end of American dominance would make the world more balanced and allow for more international dialogue.

Russia, Putin said, was ready for a better relationship with the U.S. at any time.

The Russian president also defended President Donald Trump, saying he didn't agree with characterizations that Trump only listened to himself.

"Maybe he acts like that with someone else, but in that case they are to blame," Putin said. "I have a completely normal and professional dialogue with him, and of course he listens. I see that he reacts to his interlocutor's arguments."

Putin discussed other topics as well, including the fate of Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi Arabian journalist and Washington Post columnist who disappeared into the Saudi consulate in Turkey and, according to a Turkish source, may have been murdered there.

Putin said the U.S. "has a certain responsibility" for Khashoggi because the journalist used to live there. Putin also said he didn't believe there was evidence yet proving Khashoggi was murdered and that he saw no reason for his nation to spoil its relations with the Saudis.

He compared the case to that of the former Russian spy, Sergey Skripal, whom Russia is accused of poisoning with a nerve agent in Britain.

"If someone knows what happens, and there was a murder, I hope some evidence is provided. And dependent on that, we will make some decisions," Putin said. "We do not know what happened in reality. So why should we undertake any steps to deteriorate our relations with Saudi Arabia?"

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Martin Holverda/iStock/Thinkstock(BEIJING) -- China's economy saw its growth drop slightly in the third quarter of the fiscal year, reporting the slowest growth since 2009.

The country's National Bureau of Statistics reported 6.5 percent growth between July and September -- down from 6.8 percent in the first quarter and 6.7 percent in the second. Bloomberg News cites trade tensions and a down period for the Chinese stock market as having significant impacts.

Chinese officials have pledged to support the economy by cutting costs for companies.

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ValEs1989/iStock/Thinkstock(VALLETTA, Malta) -- A new play has sparked controversy in Malta by daring to tackle one of the nation's oldest taboos: abortion.

De-terminated: The Abortion Diaries, written and directed by the journalist Herman Grech, has sparked debate in a country with one of the world's strictest abortion policies.

Malta is the only country in the European Union with an outright ban on abortion.

Grech based the play on a series of interviews he conducted in 2017 with people affected by the law, but he's adamant his own opinions on the matter are "irrelevant."

"What I wanted to address, mainly, is the Maltese culture of intolerance where it comes to abortion, where both opposing camps shout at the other side in a tribal manner," he told ABC News. "By its very nature, abortion is a divisive subject, but that doesn't mean that you don't equip yourself with facts to make your arguments."

Hundreds of Maltese women are known to seek abortion abroad with no support network to assist them, Grech said.

"While Malta has among the most progressive laws in the world where it comes to LGBTQ issues, abortion is a big taboo," he added.

Malta’s abortion policies have been repeatedly criticized by the formed EU Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks. In February he wrote an article in the Times of Malta stressing the need to reform abortion law, after writing a letter to Prime Minister Joseph Muscat in December 2017.

Muižnieks told the prime minister women who travel to other countries or pay for illegal abortions at home face a system of de facto discrimination, which is biased against those who can't afford such measures. In reply on Jan. 8, Joseph Muscat said, "My Government neither has the political mandate to open a debate on access to abortion, nor the support of the public opinion on this matter."

Dr. Miriam Sciberras, chairman of Life Network Malta, told ABC news Maltese laws protect women from the "trauma" of abortion.

"Women are not deprived of lifesaving treatment in pregnancy, should they need it -- their lives are not in danger but safeguarded," she said. "The preborn child is also safe in the womb and protected by law."

"De-terminated," which just premiered, is set to reopen the national conversation that some believe has been suppressed for too long.

"It's not up to me to try to change the law," Grech said. "But I think theater is a great medium to spark a debate."

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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has heard an alleged audio recording of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi's murder inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, according to a senior Turkish official.

Speaking exclusively and on condition of anonymity to ABC News, the official claimed the recording was played in meetings in Turkey on Wednesday, and that Pompeo was given a transcript of the recordings.

Separately, ABC News has also learned that Turkish officials believe that Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate following a struggle that lasted eight minutes and that they believe he died of strangulation.

The White House referred questions to the State Department which denied Pompeo had heard the recording or seen a transcript.

"Secretary Pompeo has neither heard a tape nor has he seen a transcript related to Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance," said State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert.

Pompeo was asked later in the evening about the matter in a brief interview with reporters on a flight to Mexico City, part of a tour to Mexico and Panama.

"I’ve heard no tape, I’ve seen no transcript," Pompeo told reporters in the only question he would take on the topic. After initially declining to take questions on the matter in favor of questions regarding his trip, Pompeo denied ABC News' report, calling it "factually false."

On his way back from Istanbul on Wednesday, Pompeo was asked if he had heard the audio.

"I don’t have anything to say about that," he said.

Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkey’s foreign minister, rejected any assertions that Turkish officials had shared a recording with Pompeo.

"Turkey has not given a voice recording to Pompeo or any other American official,” he told reporters. “Chief prosecutor of Istanbul has launched an investigation and we are waiting for the results of this investigation."

President Trump has been publicly asking to hear the recording. Pompeo met with the president at the White House on Thursday morning to brief him on his visit to Turkey and Saudi Arabia, where he met with Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman.

It is unknown whether Pompeo shared the transcript with the president, but soon after the meeting the president changed his tune.

While earlier in the week the president questioned whether the audio recording existed and cautioned against blaming Saudi Arabia for Khashoggi’s disappearance, on Thursday afternoon his administration abruptly canceled a visit to Saudi Arabia by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to attend a large investment conference hosted by the Crown Prince, whom Turkish officials have reportedly claimed was behind Khashoggi's killing.

Later in the day, Trump told reporters that "it certainly looks like" Khashoggi was dead.

"It certainly looks that way to me, it's very sad," Trump told reporters before boarding Air Force One to attend a political rally in Montana.

The president said the consequences for Saudi Arabia, if they are ultimately deemed culpable, "will have to be very severe. It's bad, bad stuff."

For now, the president said the United States is waiting for the results of several investigations but will then make a "very strong statement."

On Thursday, after his meeting at the White House, Pompeo said that he told the president that the Saudis should have "a few more days" to finish their investigation into Khashoggi’s disappearance.

But Pompeo also stressed the "long strategic relationship" that the U.S. has with Saudi Arabia, and described the country as an "important counter-terrorism supporter."

Reports have been circulating for days that the Turkish government has audio recordings of Khashoggi being interrogated and murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Turkish officials have openly claimed that Khashoggi was killed in the consulate, and that a group of 15 Saudi men flew to Istanbul around the time of Khashoggi’s disappearance.

The Saudi government has strongly denied having anything to do with the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi.

A close friend of Khashoggi, Turan Kislakci, told ABC News in an interview on Wednesday that Turkish government and security officials had told him that Khashoggi was dead.

"They said, 'We have audio on this. We know all the details about what transpired,'" said Kislakci. "They said, 'We were able to access this the first day, and we have various other evidence on this.'"

Kislakci claimed that the tapes reveal that after Khashoggi went into the Saudi embassy, he was given documents to sign. Khashoggi refused, and was killed.

"I still want to wish and hope that he is alive and so on," Kislakci said. "Unfortunately, this kind of news which related with his killing in a barbaric way is coming out."

Khashoggi, who had been living in the U.S., went missing more than two weeks ago after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. He was visiting the consulate to file paperwork for his upcoming wedding, and his fiancee waited for him in a car outside the consulate.

Khashoggi worked as an opinion columnist at The Washington Post newspaper, and has written critically of the Saudi government and its crown prince, Mohammad Bin Salman. Khashoggi warned of renewed efforts to silence the free press in the Middle East, and his final column, published on Wednesday, was titled "What the Arab world needs most is free expression."

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ABC News(TEL AVIV, Israel) -- An American student whom Israeli authorities had blocked from entering the country over her alleged political views was admitted into the country, following a ruling on Thursday from Israel's top court.

Lara Alqasem, a 22-year-old graduate student from Florida, had been detained at Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion Airport for more than two weeks as she appealed a decision to deport her.

Israeli authorities allege that she called for a boycott of Israeli goods and that they could deny her entry under a recently-passed law.

Israel's High Court of Justice ruled in Alqasem's favor on Thursday, and her attorneys said she subsequently left the airport and entered Israel.

Her lawyers said they were heartened by the decision, which Israeli prosecutors said on Thursday that they would not appeal.

"The Supreme Court's decision is a victory for free speech, academic freedom, and the rule of law," her lawyers, Leora Bechor and Yotam Ben-Hillel, said in a statement. "Israel has the right to control its borders, but that right does not give the Ministry of Interior unchecked power to turn away anyone it deems unwanted."

They added that Alqasem's appeal "has ensured that no one else should be denied the right to enter Israel based on sloppy Google searches and dossiers by shadowy smear groups."

They called her case a "gross misapplication of the law."

For their part, Israeli officials expressed disappointment in the ruling.

"I am deeply saddened by the Supreme Court's decision, which indicates a lack of understanding of the methods of action of the BDS organizations, and damaged the State of Israel's ability to fight the boycott activists who harm all of us," said Gilad Erdan, Minister of Internal Security and Strategic Affairs, referring to her alleged support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, known as BDS, which advocates boycotts as a political tool to protest Israeli policies related to the Palestinian territories.

Alqasem had intended to study at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, which had joined her appeal. She had been held at Ben-Gurion Airport since she landed there on Oct. 2, pending her appeal.

A recently passed Israeli law allows authorities to ban entry to anyone it deems to have held a senior position in an organization publicly calling to boycott the State of Israel.

Alqasem is a former president of the University of Florida chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine -- which an Israeli minister labeled an extremist organization -- and is from the Ft. Lauderdale area of Florida, according to the Associated Press.

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iStock/Thinkstock(KERCH, Crimea) -- The death toll from a college shooting and bomb attack in Crimea has grown to 20, as a top Crimean official said authorities are searching for possible accomplices who may have helped a student carry out the massacre.

At least 42 who were injured remain hospitalized, six in a critical condition, according to authorities in the Black Sea city of Kerch, where the attack happened on Wednesday.

An 18 year-old student, Vladislav Rosylakov, has been identified by police as the attacker. Russian authorities had said Roslyakov acted alone at the school, but on Thursday, Crimea’s leader Sergey Aksyonov said he believed the student must have received help preparing for the attack.

"In the college he acted alone, but the task is to establish who prepared him for this crime," Aksyonov told reporters at the scene of the attack. "He could not, in my view, have carried out such prepared events alone."

Investigators are still trying to establish Roslyakov’s motive and suggested they are treating it as a school shooting similar to those that have plagued the United States. It was unclear to what extent Russian law enforcement shared Aksyonov's assessment.

Russian authorities initially thought the school shooting was a terrorist attack, before they reclassified it as "mass murder" after Roslyakov was identified. Security footage showed him entering the Kerch Polytechnic College, where he was a fourth-year student armed with a 12-gauge pump action shotgun and bags police said were filled with homemade grenades.

According to witnesses, Roslyakov began tossing the explosives into classrooms and opened fire. Police said a bomb packed with metal objects that was planted in the school also detonated. Roslyakov killed himself at the school after police arrived about 10 to 15 minutes later, police said.

The precise details of the attack remain unclear. Some accounts described a large bomb exploding, while others described only gunfire and grenades. Pictures from the scene published in Russian media showed a bag found at the school filled with what appear to be improvised explosives. Russia’s National Anti-Terrorism Committee said it had defused a second bomb at the school on Wednesday.

Russia’s health minster, Veronika Skvortsova, said that most of the people killed were hit by gunfire, but that doctors had also been removing metal objects from people injured by what she said was a powerful bomb.

"The children's muscles are all 'minced', basically, with small pieces of metal," Skvortsova told reporters in Kerch, "We have found nuts and metal balls in the liver, guts, and blood vessels of those whose internal organs were ruptured. This is how powerful the explosion was," she said, saying others had lost lower limbs.

Friends and relatives of Rolyakov, speaking to Russian and foreign media, have described him as a quiet, isolated young man from a troubled background, fascinated by guns.

Russia’s main state newspaper, Izvestia quoted a source close to the investigation who said Roslyakov’s father had told police during questioning that his son had broken off contact recently with one of his few close friends and that he had been aware of his son’s interest in weapons.

Gun laws are strict in Russia and civilians are permitted only to own hunting rifles and smoothbore shotguns, and have to undergo background checks. Roslyakov had obtained his gun license only around two months ago, local officials said. Security camera footage aired by the Russian channel Ren-TV, showed him buying shotgun shells in store four days before the shooting.

Ordinary Russians and authorities are struggling to come to terms with the attack in a part of the world where school shootings are practically unheard of. People in Crimea and at a war memorial dedicated to Kerch near the Kremlin in Moscow have laid red mourning flowers and soft toys at makeshift shrines.

The aftermath of the shooting, however, is also unfolding against Crimea’s unusual political backdrop. Russia seized control of Crimea in 2014 using unmarked troops and has since periodically accused Ukraine of dispatching saboteurs to blow up infrastructure on the peninsula.

Some in Russia suggested that the Kerch attack may have ties to Ukraine, though there is no evidence so far.

In one of Russia's leading newspaper, Kommersant, anonymous security officials said investigators were examining whether Roslyakov had links to nationalist groups in Ukraine, referring to another case in which Russian prosecutors alleged a young Ukrainian man, Pavel Grib, tried to persuade a Russian teenage girl in Sochi to place a bomb at her school.

Officials though appear to be mostly grappling with a phenomenon grimly familiar in the U.S. but all but unknown in Russia -- mass school shootings.

Wednesday's attack was the deadliest act of violence at a Russian school since the Beslan terrorist attack in 2004, when 333 people, many children, died after Chechen fighters seized a school.

In Crimea, officials said they would review security measures at schools. On Thursday, armed riot police were temporarily deployed to guard all schools on the peninsula.

At a forum in Sochi, President Vladimir Putin told an audience that the Kerch shooting was the "result of globalization."

"It all started with those tragic events in American schools," Putin said. "Young people with unstable minds create false heroes for themselves. It means we are not creating the necessary interesting and healthy content for young people. They have only this surrogate heroism and it leads to these sorts of tragedies."

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