In our news wrap Friday, Afghan presidential front-runner Abdullah Abdullah narrowly escaped being assassinated when two bombs hit his campaign convoy outside a hotel in Kabul, killing six people. Also, Russian President Vladimir Putin met briefly with Ukrainian President-elect Petro Poroshenko between events commemorating D-Day in Normandy, France.
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President Obama, Russian President Vladimir Putin and the incoming leader of Ukraine engaged in high-profile diplomacy today at the D-Day commemorations in France.
Putin met briefly with Ukrainian president-elect Petro Poroshenko between events. Afterward, he said they agreed on the need for a cease-fire in Eastern Ukraine.
PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN, Russia (through interpreter):
I cannot but commend the position of Mr. Poroshenko that bloodshed should be stopped immediately in the east of Ukraine. And he has a plan in that regard. What plan this is, you would better ask not me, but him. He told me about it in a few words, but it's one thing to talk about it here in France and it's another thing to explain it in his own country.
Earlier, Putin and President Obama kept their distance during a group photo, but they did chat at a luncheon, their first face-to-face session since the crisis erupted. A White House adviser said Mr. Obama told Putin he should recognize Poroshenko and stop helping the rebels in Ukraine, if he wants to ease tensions.
The acting secretary of veterans affairs sounded a new warning today for the VA's troubled health care system. Sloan Gibson said administrators who punish whistle-blowers will themselves be punished. He spoke in San Antonio, Texas, after reports that 37 VA employees in 18 states were penalized for complaining of problems.
SLOAN GIBSON, Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs: I am setting the expectation that intimidation or retaliation, not just against whistle-blowers, but anybody that raises their hand and says, I think we have got a problem here or I think I know a better way to do this or I think this is wrong, that is absolutely unacceptable.
The Office of Special Counsel, a federal investigative agency, is looking into the whistle-blower cases. Some involve employees who reported improper scheduling of veterans seeking care.
The Taliban insisted today that Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl was treated well during five years of captivity. A spokesman for the militants contradicted White House claims that Bergdahl was in failing health. He said the soldier had fruit and other foods he requested, and even played soccer with his captors.
In Afghanistan, presidential front-runner Abdullah Abdullah narrowly escaped being assassinated when two bombs hit his campaign convoy. It happened outside a hotel in Kabul where Abdullah had just spoken. Six civilians were killed, and charred remains of cars and debris were left littering the street. Afterward, Abdullah charged the bombings were meant to scare voters and disrupt the election.
ABDULLAH ABDULLAH, Presidential Candidate, Afghanistan (through interpreter):
The enemies of Afghanistan failed in their plot today, but, unfortunately, we have lost a number of our countrymen. Three of my companions and three of our countrymen were martyred in today's attack. I express my sincere condolences to their families and may God rest their souls in peace.
Abdullah is favored to win a runoff on June 14 to succeed President Hamid Karzai.
Back in this country, Seattle police dug into the background of the man who allegedly killed one person and wounded two at a college Thursday afternoon. He was identified as Aaron Ybarra, a grocery clerk. Investigators say he opened fire in a building at Seattle Pacific University. When he paused to reload, they say a student pepper-sprayed him and then tackled him.
The United Negro College Fund announced today that it's getting $25 million dollars from the billionaire Koch brothers, a major force in conservative politics. Most of the grant will pay for nearly 3,000 scholarships for African-American students. The rest will support historically black colleges and universities. Charles and David Koch are best known for giving millions to libertarian and conservative causes.
On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 88 points to close at 16,924. The Nasdaq rose 25 points to close at 4,321. And the S&P 500 added almost nine to finish at 1,949, another record. For the week, the Dow and the S&P gained more than 1 percent. The Nasdaq was up nearly 2 percent.