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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(HAVANA) -- Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez is the first person outside of the Castro family to rule over Cuba in almost 60 years.

Raul Castro, who succeeded his brother Fidel in 2006, stepped down as president Thursday and gave power to his successor, First Vice President Diaz-Canel.

The Cuban government voted Wednesday to approve Diaz-Canel’s nomination as the candidate to replace the 86-year-old president.

Diaz-Canel addressed the nation with a speech that was broadcast live on television, in which he promised to preserve Cuba’s communist system while gradually introducing reforms.

"The people have given this assembly the mandate to provide continuity to the Cuban Revolution during a crucial, historic moment that will be defined by all that we achieve in the advance of the modernization of our social and economic model," he said.

Raul Castro will remain head of the ruling Communist Party, maintaining his status for now as the most powerful public figure in Cuba. There was speculation for years that Castro would pick one of his children as his successor. Instead he chose a man who wasn’t even born when his brother started a revolution and took control of Cuba in 1959.  

Diaz-Canel has served as Cuba’s first vice president since 2013. He was born in the central province of Villa Clara in 1960. He climbed his way up the ranks of the ruling Communist Party and gained prominence as party leader in Villa Clara and Hologuin provinces, before becoming higher education minister.  

Diaz-Canel also led the Cuban delegation to the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

Diaz-Canel has publicly defended bloggers and academics who were critical of the Cuban government, under a system that represses dissent and is intolerant of criticism.


Now, as Cuba's newest president, the world will be watching his every move to see whether he strays from the path paved by the Castro brothers.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The U.S. said Thursday it has "credible information and intelligence" that shows Russian and Syrian regime officials are denying an investigative team access to the alleged chemical weapons attack sites in Douma, Syria, as they sanitize them and remove incriminating evidence.

The accusation comes as the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, or OPCW, investigators have still not reached Douma, the city outside the capital Damascus where the attacks reportedly took place. It has been 12 days since the chemical weapons were reportedly used – and nearly one week since President Donald Trump joined France and the United Kingdom in ordering the bombing of the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad for the attacks, which Syria denies carrying out.

"We have credible information that indicates that Russian officials are working with the Syrian regime to deny and delay these inspectors from gaining access to Douma," State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said Thursday. "We believe it is an effort to conduct their own staged investigations. Russian officials have worked with the Syrian regime, we believe, to sanitize the locations of those suspected attacks and remove incriminating evidence of chemical weapons use."

In addition to destroying evidence, she said, Russia and Syria are pressuring witnesses to change their stories.

"We have also watched as some people have seemingly been pressured by the government to change their stories about what actually occurred that night," Nauert added. "We have reports from credible people on the ground who have indicated that they have been pressured by both Russia and Syria to change their stories."

She couldn't say whether Russia and Syria had been "successful" in eliminating any trace of sarin or chlorine at the sites, but said it may mean that the OPCW investigation – if its team does get access – will not find any traces of the reported attack.

"It might be, it might be," she said – but she wouldn't "weigh into that conversation" any further and get ahead of the investigation: "We will have to wait and see."

Russian and Syrian responses to the U.S. accusation weren't immediately available.

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Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Just one month before Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are to marry, the couple stepped out at a reception to promote women’s empowerment and girls' education.

Markle, who once served as an advocate for UN Women, joined Harry in meeting with representatives of charities and organizations which support global gender equality.

The reception was held as part of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, which brings together heads of state and delegates from the 53 member nations of the Commonwealth.

At a Commonwealth reception on Wednesday, Harry and Markle spoke with LGBT advocates and ensured them that highlighting gay rights would be included in their charitable work.'

Harry’s mother, Princess Diana, was one of the earliest high-profile people to break down the stigma surrounding HIV and AIDs. Her sons, Harry and Prince William, have followed in her footsteps as staunch advocates of human rights.

Jacob Thomas, from Australia, who won a Queen’s Young Leaders award, recalled speaking with Harry and Markle about gay rights as a human rights issue.

"Prince Harry said that what was so amazing was that 10 or so years ago we wouldn’t have been having this conversation and how incredible it was that we now were," Thomas told reporters.

It is significant for Markle, someone who has not yet married into the royal family, to be involved in such a high-profile event as the Commonwealth Heads of Government summit.

Today's event comes just days after Harry was named Commonwealth Youth Ambassador by Queen Elizabeth.

Harry's work as ambassador will focus on “supporting the aspirations of young people,” according to a statement released by Buckingham Palace.

Harry discussed his new role with excitement in a keynote speech he delivered Monday.

"In my new role, I will work to support the Queen, my father The Prince of Wales, and my brother William, all of whom know that young people are the answer to the challenges of today," he said. "I am also incredibly grateful that the woman I am about to marry, Meghan, will be joining me in this work, of which she too is hugely excited to take part in."

Markle as an advocate for women

While making a name for herself as an actress, Markle worked on women's rights issues with organizations including World Vision, the Myna Mahila Foundation and One Young World, in addition to the United Nations.

On International Women's Day last year, Markle wrote an essay on period shaming based on her experience visiting India as an ambassador for World Vision, a global Christian humanitarian organization.

Markle has hinted that she has found her match as a feminist with Harry, who is also known for his humanitarian work.

Since moving to London late last year, Markle has spent her time traveling with Harry to different parts of the U.K., learning about the causes closest to him and meeting stakeholders.

She spoke about the #MeToo movement and women's empowerment in February at a forum for The Royal Foundation, which she will join as a patron once she and Harry wed.

"I hear a lot of people speaking about girls' empowerment and women's empowerment. You will hear people saying they are helping women find their voices," Markle said. "I fundamentally disagree with that because women don't need to find their voices."

She added, "They need to be empowered to use [their voices] and people need to be urged to listen. Right now with so many campaigns like #MeToo and #TimesUp there's no better time to continue to shine a light on women feeling empowered and people supporting them."

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Photodisc/Thinkstock(BERLIN) -- The Konstanz Theater in southern Germany is offering visitors free tickets to an upcoming production of playwright George Tabori’s Hitler satire Mein Kampf by adding a provocative audience-participation element.

Visitors to the production, which purposely premieres on Hitler’s birthday (April 20), will have to make an uncomfortable decision when they arrive at the theater.

Those who would like a free ticket must wear an armband, provided by the theater, bearing a swastika for the entire duration of the performance. Paying audience members are encouraged to wear a Star of David, showing “solidarity with the victims of the tyranny of national socialism,” according to the theater’s website.

The concept was proposed by Turkish-born director-author Serdar Somuncu, who has won some of Germany’s top theater awards, including the German Theatre-Literature Prize.

Somuncu wanted the performance to begin the moment tickets were purchased, according to the theater’s leadership. “The question raised is, how easily can you be corrupted? Would you wear a Swastika to save a few euros?” theater spokesman Daniel Morgenroth said.

“We wanted to encourage people to make up their minds when they purchase tickets in the same way they have to make up their minds to stand up to xenophobia, fascism and populism in the real world,” he added.

The concept aims to raise awareness of such dangers, he said, including anti-Semitism’s returning to Germany.

Up to a dozen people have opted to wear the Swastika for free tickets for each performance, Morgenroth said.

Useful social commentary or 'bizarre marketing gig'?

The piece to be performed is a far cry from the dictator’s manifesto of the same title. The 1987 play is a satire on Hitler’s life, focusing on his origins as a struggling art student in Vienna who is befriended by a Jewish man.

But many people question the need to use a symbol associated with the death of millions, even for artistic purposes.

The German Parliament voted in January to appoint an anti-Semitism commissioner -- a new position -- to combat the rise of what many see as a new wave of anti-Semitism in the country.

Ruth Frenk, who heads the local chapter of the Israeli-German society in the region, said she found the production’s concept “tasteless and unnecessary.”

“I do think it needs a discussion,” she told ABC News, “but we don’t need a Star of David or swastika to have it when it’s in the news every day.”

Her organization put out a public statement criticizing the play’s debut on Hitler’s birthday, calling it “a bizarre marketing gig.”

While the use of Nazi symbols is prohibited by German law, they can, however, be used under rules ensuring artistic freedom. Despite the complaints received, the Konstanz public prosecutor’s office said Wednesday that it would not launch an investigation into the production.

The reference to the Holocaust or Nazis used in an artistic context, although legal, is a hot-button issue.

The topic splashed across headlines in German media last week as the country’s Echo pop awards were doled out to a rap duo who incorporated lyrics many consider to be anti-Semitic.

In their music, Kollegah and Farid Bang said their muscles are “more defined than Auschwitz prisoners,” and include lines such as “I’m doing another Holocaust, coming at you with a Molotov.”

The timing of the awards ceremony couldn’t have been worse: It was Holocaust Remembrance Day.

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iStock/Thinkstock(HAVANA) -- After nearly 60 years of Castro rule, there is a new president in Cuba. The Cuban General Assembly voted on Wednesday to elect First Vice President Miguel Díaz-Canel as the next president.

Who is the 57-year-old Communist Party official and former higher education minister, and what will his leadership mean for U.S.-Cuban relations and Americans traveling to the country?

What we know about Miguel Díaz-Canel

It's hard to understate how consequential a moment this is for Díaz-Canel and the Caribbean nation. Although former leader Raul Castro will remain head of the Communist Party and be involved in policy decisions, this is the end of an era for Cubans.

"To have someone without the family name or the same aura of revolutionary is a historic shift," Geoff Thale, vice president for programs at the Washington Office of Latin America, told ABC News. "The fact that someone is coming in without the revolutionary legitimacy as the founders of the state, and the heroes of the revolution, isn't just an institutional change."

But Díaz-Canel is still a party man. He came up through the system, first gaining notice as the head of party in the provinces Villa Clara and Holguín, before becoming higher education minister. He was also Raul's top vice president and de facto successor in 2013.

"Díaz-Canel is not coming in to break the china. He is a consummate political insider," according to Marguerite Jimenez, director of the Cuba Program at the Washington Office on Latin America, or WOLA. Díaz-Canel developed "a reputation as an efficient manager, pragmatist and man of the people," she added.

What this means for Americans

It's unlikely, then, that he will make significant changes to Cuba's stance toward the U.S., especially after President Trump scaled back Cuban-American relations. It's even unclear how much he'd be able to do as president.

"With Raul Castro still at the helm of the island’s Communist party, no one should expect anything to change overnight," Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., who is ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a Cuban-American critic of the Castro regime, said in a statement to ABC News. "Unless the regime commits to governing Cuba rather than exploiting its people, this transition won’t be any different for Cubans."

Still, analysts expect that Díaz-Canel will make some economic reforms after Raul Castro's time was marked by energy rationing and shortages of consumer products, price inflation, low take-home pay and a brain drain of the workforce.

Despite those issues, the private economy has "taken off, providing jobs and income to as many as four out of 10 Cubans of working age," according to a report by Richard Feinberg of the Brookings Institution.

International tourism has played a big role in that expansion, with the number of visitors doubling during Raul Castro's decade of rule. That included more Americans after President Obama's historic opening with Cuba, where he loosened restrictions on who could travel and how, and reopened the U.S. embassy in Havana.

What are the U.S. travel restrictions now?

Those numbers have dipped during Trump's time in office after he implemented new restrictions in November.

U.S. tourists and companies are no longer allowed to do business with a list of 180 sanctioned Cuban businesses that allegedly have ties to the military, intelligence or security services, including famous hotels in Havana such as Hotel Ambos Mundos and Hotel Armadores de Santander, certain shops in Old Havana, and particular rum producers and real estate firms.

American tourists are also not permitted to travel to Cuba on individual people-to-people exchange programs. They must travel now with a sponsoring organization or, if they're on educational travel, with an American group or university.

But the administration is not requiring that travelers obtain permission beforehand -- a more onerous restriction from the pre-Obama era that made it more difficult to travel. Instead, the Treasury Department is asking U.S. citizens to keep their paperwork to prove they did not violate any U.S. laws, or they could face enforcement by Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control, or OFAC, with the help of agencies such as Customs and Border Patrol at ports of entry. Penalties for breaking the sanctions include heavy fines and, after multiple violations, prosecution.

While tourism to Cuba has never been allowed outright, the people-to-people exchanges permitted American travelers to see the island as part of a cultural exchange, and enforcement under the Obama administration became very lax. The Trump administration, however, has said it wants to eliminate any American support for the Cuban government because of its human rights abuses.

"We do not want U.S. dollars to prop up a military monopoly that exploits and abuses the citizens of Cuba," the president said in his major Cuba policy address last June.

But to critics, creating new restrictions has done more to hurt those average citizens and gave the government a new cudgel against America.

"Individual U.S. travelers to Cuba are the primary customers in Cuba's private sector, so these regulations have had the opposite of their intended effect," according to Gabrielle Jorgensen, director of Public Policy at Engage Cuba, a coalition of businesses and organizations lobbying to end the U.S.'s Cuba embargo.

Is it safe to travel to Cuba?

It's not just the new restrictions that have slowed U.S. tourism down; the "health attacks" on U.S. personnel at the embassy have played a factor as well. At least 24 Americans have been medically confirmed to have experienced symptoms ranging from trouble seeing or concentrating to headaches and balance problems, according to the State Department.

The cause of the symptoms, which were detailed in a medical journal, is still unknown, and the U.S.'s investigation is ongoing. Cuba has denied the attacks, while U.S. officials insist Cuba must know what is happening, given the government's tight control of the island.

The State Department issued a travel warning in September that American citizens who visit the nation may also be at risk. Since then, a handful of U.S. citizens who recently traveled to Cuba informed U.S. personnel that they experienced similar symptoms, the department said.

But there's been no proof so far that Americans are being targeted.

The drawdown of U.S. staff has limited the consular services available to American citizens in Cuba -- and halted visa services for Cubans.

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Bandar Algaloud/Saudi Kingdom Council/Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(RIYADH, Saudi Arabia) -- Saudi Arabia broke a 35-year ban on movie theaters Wednesday night with a special showing of the Disney blockbuster Black Panther in the Saudi capital that allowed men and women to sit together.

The invitation-only screening in Riyadh drew hundreds of VIP guests, including government ministers and officials, diplomats and various Saudi celebrities.

"It is just great to watch a superhero fighting for his kingdom, surrounded by women empowered as warriors, while the issues of race and colonialism were tackled,” said Suha, a 27-year-old political scientist who asked ABC News not to use her last name. "And all of this in Riyadh."

Suha attended the screening with her best friend. “This is a historic moment,” she said. “We no longer need to travel to Bahrain or Abu Dhabi to watch Hollywood movies.”

The first public screening will take place Friday, with tickets available for $13, according to Italia Film, Disney’s Middle East distribution partner.

Cinemas are set to follow. The government struck a deal with U.S. company AMC Entertainment earlier this month to repurpose the concert hall in the King Abdullah Financial District and open theaters in 40 Saudi cities over the next five years, up to 100 cinemas by 2030.

Wednesday's screening took place in conjunction with the glittering rededication of a space built two years ago as a symphony concert hall. The main theater has 620 leather seats, orchestra and balcony levels, and marble bathrooms. Three more movie screens, accommodating a combined 500 people, will be added by the summer.

As part of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's aggressive campaign to modernize Saudi Arabian society, the new Riyadh multiplex allowed men and women to sit together.

The new movie palaces are just one example of Saudi public space meant to make the country look stylish and modern, and more friendly to women, who now can drive cars and attend public concerts, speeches and soccer games.

The 32-year-old prince, known by his initials, MbS, has also been campaigning to modernize the national economy. His plans include reducing the country’s near-total reliance on oil revenue and diversifying into regional business and financial services and tourism. Both those sectors need the participation of women to succeed.

“The crown prince knows that Saudi Arabia has a problematic image in the Western world,” a Western diplomat in Riyadh, requesting anonymity, told ABC News recently. “What he wants to do is transform Saudi Arabia and its society in ways that will be very appealing to Westerners,” meaning Americans and Europeans.

The apparent losers in this cultural makeover are Saudi Arabia’s ultra-conservative clerics. The grand mufti, Saudi Arabia’s highest religious authority, publicly called commercial films a source of “depravity” and opposed the opening of movie theaters as recently as last year.

So Wednesday's grand opening signaled not just a bet on Hollywood, but royal family confidence that in today’s Islamic world, a country that shows movies to a mixed public can still draw millions of devout pilgrims to the annual Hajj in Mecca, the spiritual heart of Islam.

Whatever the outcome, movies shown in Saudi Arabia are unlikely to escape the kind of censorship that affects all films in the Middle East, experts say.

Censorship is toughest in Kuwait, for instance, a veteran executive at Italia Film told ABC News.

The most relaxed censorship, he said, is in the United Arab Emirates and Lebanon.

With Black Panther, Saudi censors followed the example of their counterparts in Kuwait, cutting two kisses and a curse from the film.

ABC News is a division of the Walt Disney Co.


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Ricardo Arduengo/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Puerto Rico is facing its worst blackout since Hurricane Maria hit in September, leaving some residents wondering whether the island will ever fully recover.

"Everyone is frustrated and it's so unstable," said Eileen Velez, a 37-year-old engineer who lives outside San Juan. "It feels like the hurricane side effects will never end.”

The power outage is affecting the entire island, according to the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA).

"The entire electrical system in Puerto Rico collapses AGAIN! Back to September 20th," tweeted San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz Wednesday.

The main priorities for restoration are hospitals, airports, water treatment plants, banks, business and then homes, a PREPA spokesperson told ABC News, adding it will take 24 to 36 hours for the last person to get their power back.

The trouble began when the contractor Cobra Energy used an excavator to remove a recently collapsed electrical tower on Wednesday, affecting the line that caused the outage, according to Justo Gonzalez, acting executive director of PREPA.

Gonzalez said it is possible that only 1 to 2 percent of customers had power after the incident, as compared to 92.7 percent before the outage.

Mammoth Energy, the parent company of Cobra, said in a statement to ABC News "Cobra is dedicated to the difficult work that lies ahead and continues to work around-the-clock with PREPA and the citizens of Puerto Rico to repair the entire infrastructure system to prevent outages such as this one from affecting the entire population on the island."

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello announced on Twitter that he has called for PREPA to drop Cobra as a contractor.

"I have suggested to the Board of @AEEONLINE that they cancel the contract with the Cobra subcontractor that is directly responsible for this power outage," Rossello tweeted. "This is the second power failure that has affected the people of Puerto Rico in less than two weeks."

"This incident denotes the need to transform @AEEONLINE into a cutting-edge, modern and robust corporation," Rossello added.

Puerto Rico has been plagued by several blackouts in recent months, including a major outage last week that affected roughly 840,000 people.

In March, six months since Hurricane Maria walloped the island, Gov. Rossello said that the electrical grid being put up currently will be weaker than the grid that existed before the storm, adding that it could take nearly five years for a stronger grid to be built.

“Everybody is pissed off," said Dr. Jorge Gabriel Rosado, 30, a pediatrician on the island. "Especially when all these reports keep coming out that [seem to] confirm what was an unspoken truth: Response to this disaster was slower and more disinterested than any other emergency response in U.S. history.”

In February, Rossello told ABC News that he felt a lack of urgency from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in helping to restore power.

"Two-thirds of the island’s recovery on that front is in the Corps of Engineers’ hands," Rossello said. "I have seen a lack of urgency on that, whether it is on the contracting side or the bringing materials side which is a current problem."

The U.S. Army's top engineer said in February that their role was never to completely rebuild the power system.

“We respond to get things back up to normal," Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite said. "Rebuilding the generating capability of Puerto Rico was not the Corps of Engineers' task."

The power outage has called into question a baseball game between the Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians scheduled for Wednesday night in San Juan.

In a bit of good news for the island, Puerto Rico Series' director of operations John Blakeman told ESPN the show will go on.

"This has not taken us by surprise. We are prepared. Every area of Hiram Bithorn Stadium can run on generators that have a capacity to run for 48 hours," Blakeman said.

The game is expected to create a $17 million impact to the island, according to the Puerto Rico Tourism Company.

On Wednesday evening, PREPA announced that more than 51,000 customers have electric service, though Puerto Rico has more than 1 million households.

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iStock/Thinkstock(HAVANA) -- In the rugged Sierra Maestra mountains near where Fidel Castro made his hideout as he led a guerrilla uprising in the late 1950s, Cubans say they are still grateful for the land reforms and modern amenities his leftist revolution brought to the area.

Fidel Castro's younger brother Raul Castro, 86, steps down as president this week. His successor is likely to be 57-year-old Miguel Diaz-Canel, the first time that Communist-run Cuba has had a leader born after the 1959 revolution.

In Santo Domingo, the hamlet closest to the "Comandancia La Plata" where the rebels had their military headquarters, locals say they owe much to the Castros' revolution, despite an ailing economy that Raul Castro's tentative market reforms have failed to fix.

"I have a happy life: I have a place to farm; I have animals," said farmer Paulo Alvarez, 55, whose pigs, turkeys, and chickens roam freely around his wooden hut, grunting and squawking. "I thank the revolution for that. It was not like this before."

Fidel Castro, who ruled for decades before handing off to his brother and who died in retirement in 2016, nationalized many large agricultural properties after coming to power, part of a sharp leftward turn that prompted many Cubans to leave the island and that sent relations with the United States into a long freeze.

Title to the land was given free of charge to former tenant farmers, farm laborers and sharecroppers. Many farmers then joined together to work under the umbrella of state and cooperative farms.

The Cuban government also brought medical facilities, schools and paved roads to remote places like Santo Domingo, a village of several hundred inhabitants nestled in the wooded mountains by a river.

Resident Luis Enrique Perez was able to train as an English teacher, although he gave up teaching because of the low salary. Despite the revolution's achievements in social indicators like education, much of Cuba's population scrapes by on state wages, which at around $30 per month are a source of common grumbles.

Perez said he found better-paid work as a guide at the Comandancia La Plata, which nowadays attracts visitors exploring Cuba's political heritage.

"I can make better money and also practice my languages with tourists, which is my passion," said Perez, as he pointed to the large bed where Fidel Castro once slept next to a window overlooking the surrounding undergrowth.

Adding a touch of authenticity, a 1950s American fridge stands in the main room with a bullet hole where it is said to have been hit by enemy fire while being carried up the mountains to the "Commandante's" hut.

"Raul did many good things to Cuba in the last 10 years," he said. "He has changed the social life of the country, with cooperatives, private business, hotspots, internet, mobiles."

The younger Castro has opened up Cuba's state-run economy to private enterprise in an attempt to boost growth and trim the state payroll. A surge in tourism over the past few years has fostered that fledgling private sector.

In Santo Domingo, private restaurants and bed-and-breakfasts have sprung up alongside the main road, where cows and horses saunter across nonchalantly in search of better pastures.

"Cuba would be the best place to live in the world," said Perez, "if state salaries were good enough."

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A United Nations security team came under fire on Tuesday during a visit to the site of a suspected chemical attack in the Syrian town of Douma, the head of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said on Wednesday.

The team was in Douma to survey conditions before chemical weapons experts were to inspect the site. Gunshots were fired at the U.N. security team and an explosive was detonated before the team returned to Damascus, OPCW Director-General Ahmet Uzumcu said. International chemical weapons inspectors were expected to visit the site on Wednesday, but the visit has now been postponed and it is unknown when it will take place.

“At present, we do not know when the [Fact-Finding Mission] team can be deployed to Douma,” Uzumcu told the OPCW’s Executive Council, adding that he will only consider deploying the inspectors once the U.N. security team determines that it is safe and only if the inspectors get unhindered access to the site.

The OPCW inspectors are in Syria to investigate a suspected gas attack, which took place on April 7 in Douma. The alleged attack killed scores of civilians, according to activists, rescue workers and Western countries.

In response, the United States, the U.K. and France fired missiles at three Syrian targets on Saturday. The targets included a scientific research center in the greater Damascus area described by U.S. officials as a center for research, development, production and testing of chemical weapons.



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Chris Jackson/Getty Images(LONDON) -- More reliable than baby due dates in the Lindo maternity wing of St. Mary's Hospital in London, are the die hard royal baby watchers outside. They're few, they're dedicated, and they're here rain or shine.

"We come as soon as they put the parking restrictions on," Maria Scott, 46, from Newcastle told ABC News, with a British flag tied around her shoulders like a cape. The parking restrictions come when authorities set up the press pen, and clear the street for motorcade access, Scott explained.

Kate's due date is rumored to be next week and they've been camping out for nine days already, just to be on the safe side.

Scott and her friends were here outside the prestigious, private Lindo Wing for Prince William and Kate Middleton's first two kids, George and Charlotte - and they're not going to miss the third.

"I've done it so long, I know the routine, the helicopters and the motorcade" said Terry Hutt, 83, from Camden Town, whose dashing Union Jack suit has been a mainstay at royal events for decades. "And I explain it to people who haven't done it before."

"As soon as I get that feeling," Hutt said, obviously excited at the thought, "butterflies, is what women call it, butterflies, that's it - I'll get on my feet and be ready."

But why camp out? One might ask.

Hutt, Scott, her daughter Amy Thompson and John Loughrey, 63, also donning a Union Jack suit, were all seated on a bench in the sun outside the hospital, next to some camping chairs and a tent draped with the British flag.

Scott said it's all about the electric atmosphere. Loughrey added that it was also about the celebration and the champagne. And for 83 year-old Hutt, well, it's tradition and team work.

"You've got to be here to experience it, seeing it on TV doesn't do it justice," Scott said, her flag now slightly off kilter. "It's just a wonderful feeling you get. The excitement is magical!"

The whole experience on the day of the birth doesn't last long. The Duke and Duchess emerge with their newest addition on the steps of the Lindo Wing, wave, say a few words to the crowd, and then they're off. That's it.

Did Amy Thompson ever think her mom was a bit nuts, honestly?

"No, no," Thompson says. "I've been brought up knowing everything about the family - and she's always been this way. Everyone has their thing and this is ours." Like her mother, she too, has become an ardent royal fan.

"It's indescribable. It means the world," Thompson adds.

The tight-knit group has done multiple events together and they say Kate even sent them breakfast the morning she gave birth to Charlotte. So, when do they think this new baby, the fifth in line for the throne, will arrive?

"Well, I was wrong," Hutt said. "I thought it would be last night and I got all packed up and ready to go."

Scott has her eyes on this weekend. "I think it's going to be on the 21st, the Queen's birthday," she said. Her daughter, Thompson and the others nod in agreement. "That would be lovely for the Queen. A wonderful birthday present."

The group is split on whether they think it will be a boy or a girl. And as for names, Philip Michael, Victoria, Elizabeth and Alice are all offered as viable options.

Hutt adds that he might like like them to name the baby after him or his wife. In the end though, he's just hoping for a healthy baby for the happy couple.

"It's going to be a beautiful day," Hutt said, adjusting his matching Union Jack printed fedora.

Like Thompson said, everyone has their thing.

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Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- CIA Director Mike Pompeo secretly met with Kim Jong Un to discuss setting up a meeting between the North Korean leader and President Donald Trump, two U.S. officials have confirmed to ABC News.

The trip to North Korea, first reported by the Washington Post, happened over Easter weekend.

The White House and the CIA have declined to comment.

Earlier on Tuesday, Trump himself confirmed there have been "direct talks at very high levels with North Korea."

The president has said he hopes to meet with Kim as early as May or June. Trump said Tuesday that five locations have been discussed as possible venues.

The president, who confirmed the meeting in a tweet Wednesday morning, has said he hopes to meet with Kim as early as May or June. Trump said Tuesday that five locations have been discussed as possible venues.

A senior U.S. official said the president has ruled out China as a location, and that Kim likely wouldn't agree to meet in the U.S., just as Trump said he wouldn't meet in North Korea.

Venues in Europe, southern Asia and the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea are being considered.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Documents released Tuesday appear to show a contradiction between an internal agency report and the assessment by the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) about the end a humanitarian program, known as Temporary Protected Status (TPS), for Haiti.

USCIS Director Francis Cissna based his assessment and recommendation on the report, according to a letter.

The internal USCIS report said that "many of the conditions prompting the original January 2010 TPS designation persist, and the country remains vulnerable to external shocks and internal fragility.”

The memo went on to conclude that "due to the conditions outlined in this report, Haiti’s recovery from the 2010 earthquake could be characterized as falling into what one non-governmental organization recently described as 'the country’s tragic pattern of one step forward, two steps back.'"

Cissna wrote to then-acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke -- who was responsible for making the final decision on the program -- that while lingering effects of the 2010 earthquake remain, "Haiti has made significant progress in addressing issues specific to the earthquake."

"In summary, Haiti has made significant progress in recovering from the 2010 earthquake, and no longer continues to meet the conditions for designation," he wrote.

His final recommendation to Duke is redacted.

According to USCIS, the TPS memo addressed conditions related to the earthquake, including displaced people and a prior housing shortage.

The documents were released after the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, along with the NYU School of Law, filed a lawsuit seeking records pertaining to the termination of TPS for Haiti.

In November, Duke announced her decision to terminate the program for Haiti, with a delayed effective date "to allow for an orderly transition before the designation terminates on July 22, 2019."

In her announcement, she wrote that the "extraordinary but temporary conditions caused by the 2010 earthquake no longer exist."

Approximately 59,000 Haitians have been impacted by the decision, and will have to leave the United States or face living in the country illegally -- pending any legislative response or ongoing litigation.

Last Friday was Duke's last day at the department, and she could not be reached for comment.

"I think it raises questions about whether they were making policy decisions about how they were approaching TPS, instead of case-by-case review that they have historically done,” Sejal Zota, legal director of the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, said to ABC News.

"Their own internal report documents and confirms that many of the conditions persist and that the country remains vulnerable," said Zota.

The termination of TPS for Haiti comes amid the end to numerous similar programs, like those for Nicaragua, El Salvador and Sudan, which immigration advocates say "creates instability and problems not just for these families, but for their communities."

A decision on whether to extend TPS for Nepal is due next week.

This is the first batch of documents, but thousands more are expected over the coming months.

In response to the released documents, USCIS said that "the decision to terminate TPS for Haiti was made after an interagency review process that considered country conditions and the ability of the country to receive returning citizens, according to the agency."

"DHS undertook an extensive outreach campaign to U.S. state and federal government officials, Haitian officials, and third-party partners who offered their input as to the conditions on the ground in Haiti. Based on all available information, acting Secretary Elaine Duke determined that the extraordinary and temporary conditions that formed the basis of Haiti’s TPS designation as a result of the 2010 earthquake no longer exist, and thus, pursuant to statute, DHS concluded the current TPS designation for Haiti should not be extended," said Cissna in a statement.

The Lawyers Guild has also filed a separate lawsuit challenging the end to the program. The government is expected to provide a response to that lawsuit by May 24.

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iStock/Thinkstock(SEOUL) -- South Korean authorities have formally requested a travel ban on the youngest daughter of Korean Air Chairman Cho Yang-ho after she allegedly threw a drink at someone during an office meeting.

Cho Hyun-min, a senior vice president at the airline who is also known as Emily Cho, is accused of yelling at and throwing a cup of plum juice at an advertising firm manager last month. She told reporters at the airport on Sunday that she merely "pushed" a cup and didn't throw it at anyone's face.

Seoul’s Gangseo Police Station is investigating the criminal case and requested Cho's travel ban from the justice ministry on Tuesday.

Korean Air has suspended the 35-year-old graduate of the University of Southern California, who apologized to all Korean Air employees in an email and posted another apology via social media that read, in part, "It is my big fault for not controlling my own emotions."

Cho's older sister, Cho Hyun-ah, also known as Heather, served a jail sentence after a 2014 incident in which she threw a tantrum and demanded the plane she was on return to its gate at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport because of the way she was served a bag of nuts in first class.

The Korea Customs Service is also looking into accusations that Cho family members have ordered staff to bring in luxury goods without paying customs duties.

Korean Air did not immediately respond to a request for additional comments.

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Han Myung-Gu/WireImage(SEOUL) -- Choi Eun-hee, a South Korean film icon once kidnapped by North Korean leader Kim Jong Il's regime in 1970s, has died at the age of 92.

She succumbed to chronic kidney disease on Tuesday, her eldest son, Shin Jeong-gyun, himself now a director in South Korea, told Yonhap News Agency.

Having begun her film career in 1947 at the age of 21, Choi became a star after the movie The Sun of Night debuted the following year. In 1954, she married a promising director named Shin Sang-ok. Choi starred in 130 films directed by Shin during the glory days of South Korea's film industry. The couple divorced in 1977.

In 1978, Choi disappeared without trace during a visit to Hong Kong. Shin searched for his ex-wife overseas and also went missing about a year later. Authorities later confirmed that both had been taken to North Korea, where the pair produced 17 movies, including the 1985 film "Salt," for which Choi won Best Actress at the Moscow Film Festival. Doing so, she became the first Korean to win an award at an international film festival.

Kim Jong Il kidnapped the pair after deciding that North Korean filmmakers could not depict stories as he intended, according to South Korea’s National Intelligence report in 1984, which was exposed by Monthly Chosun. At the time, Kim was leading espionage operations in South, gearing up to become his country's leader after his father, Kim Il Sung.

In 1986, Choi and Shin escaped from North Korea to the U.S., where they requested asylum, eventually returning home to South Korea in 1999.

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Olivier Douliery - Pool/Getty Images(WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.) -- President Donald Trump said Tuesday that members of his administration are already talking to officials in North Korea "at extremely high levels" about his possible summit with Kim Jong Un.

"We have also started talking to North Korea directly, at extremely high levels," Trump said during a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at his Mar—a—Lago resort in Florida.

Trump made the surprise announcement as he kicked off his two days of talks with Abe. Both leaders said the potential Trump-Kim summit is expected to dominate their agenda, along with discussions on trade.

Just after Abe's arrival, Trump reacted to news that South Korea and North Korea were nearing a potential agreement to announce the end of their decades-long military conflict ahead of a meeting between South Korean President Moon Jae-In and Kim Jong-Un.

Trump said the two countries "have my blessing" to discuss ending the war, and said Asian leaders have given him significant credit for the recent series of positive developments pointing towards potential lasting peace in the Korean peninsula.

"They’ve been very generous that without us and without me in particular, I guess, they wouldn’t be discussing anything and the Olympics would have been a failure," Trump said.

Trump said that he and Abe are "very unified" on the issue of North Korea, and said there are five separate locations under consideration as he plans to meet with Kim Jong Un in early June or before that. But the president also added a potential caveat.

"Assuming things go well, it's possible things won't go well and we won't have the meeting," Trump said. "We will see what happens."

Speaking to reporters in advance of Abe's arrival, Director of the National Economic Council Larry Kudlow and senior director for Asian Affairs at the National Security Council Matthew Pottinger emphasized that Trump and Abe have a close friendship and that Trump has met with Abe more than any other foreign leader since taking office 14 months ago.

Trump said that he and Abe hope to play a round of golf together, if possible -- saying the pair would "sneak out" to hit the links tomorrow at one of Trump's nearby golf courses if they have the time.

Kudlow was also asked about his new role announced last week after a meeting the president held with lawmakers at the White House to consider the U.S. potentially negotiating to re-join the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade accord the president routinely derided as a "terrible deal" while he was a candidate for the presidency.

"There’s nothing at all concrete," Kudlow said. "On the American side at the moment, it’s more of a thought than a policy."

Kudlow insisted the Japanese are open to discussions about potentially reentering, but said such a deal would only happen if the U.S. is able to achieve a more favorable deal.

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