News Wrap: Indonesia, Malaysia agree to shelter thousands adrift at sea

In our news wrap Wednesday, Indonesia and Malaysia agreed to accept thousands of refugees who have been stranded at sea in Southeast Asia. Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department said that the U.S. is willing to take more refugees and help other governments with resettlement efforts. Also, Islamic State militants seized Palmyra in Syria, raising fears they’ll destroy Roman ruins.

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  • GWEN IFILL:

    The crisis of migrants stranded at sea in Southeast Asia took a dramatic turn today. Indonesia and Malaysia agreed to accept thousands of the refugees. Many, like more than 400 rescued today, are Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution in Myanmar and Bangladesh.

    Malaysia's foreign minister announced they will no longer be denied entry.

  • ANIFAH AMAN, Foreign Minister, Malaysia:

    Indonesia and Malaysia agreed to continue to provide humanitarian assistance to those 7,000 irregular migrants still at sea. We also agreed to offer them temporary shelter, provided that the settlement and repatriation process will be done in one year by the international community.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    In Washington, the State Department said the United States is willing to take more of the refugees and help other governments with their own resettlement efforts.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Islamic State militants seized an ancient city in central Syria today, raising fears they will destroy Roman ruins. The target was Palmyra, which is famed for its 2,000-year-old temple, theater and colonnades.

    Meanwhile, in Iraq, government troops said they fought off an attack near Ramadi, as ISIS tries to consolidate gains there.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Iran's supreme leader has laid down a new red line in nuclear talks with world powers. Ayatollah Khamenei spoke at a military academy today, and insisted inspectors will never interview Iran's nuclear scientists.

  • AYATOLLAH ALI KHAMENEI, Supreme Leader, Iran (through interpreter):

    No wise person in the world would allow that. They hide their scientists and even keep their names confidential. The rude and shameless enemy expects us to make the way open for them to come here and talk and negotiate with our scientists. Such permission will, under no circumstances, be given.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Khamenei also rejected giving inspectors access to military sites. The nuclear talks are under way in Vienna, with a deadline of June 30.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    In another development, Iran moved to avert a confrontation at sea with Saudi Arabia. The Tehran government said that it will not try to send a shipload of humanitarian aid directly to Yemen. Instead, the ship will go to Djibouti for a U.N. inspection. From there, it would sail to a Yemeni port controlled by Shiite rebels. The Saudis have warned against any effort to send arms to the rebels.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    An estimated six million Germans faced tough commutes today, after drivers of passenger trains walked off the job. At stations around the country, signs and displays alerted travelers to the strike, while drivers demonstrated for higher wages outside. It's the ninth such walkout in 10 months.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Back in this country, the National Security Agency will have to curtail its bulk collection of phone records starting Friday. The Justice Department issued that warning today, with parts of the Patriot Act set to expire June 1. It came as Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, a Republican presidential candidate, tied up the Senate, speaking against the Patriot Act.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    President Obama is calling climate change a threat to the nation's ability to defend itself. He addressed graduates at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, today, and he cited everything from crop losses that feed conflict, to rising sea levels that swamp Naval bases.

  • PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

    I'm here today to say that climate change constitutes a serious threat to global security, an immediate risk to our national security. And make no mistake, it will impact how our military defends our country. And so we need to act, and we need to act now.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    The president said those who deny a human role in climate change are placing the country at risk.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    The state of Nebraska is on its way to abolishing the death penalty, after lawmakers voted to repeal it today. In a new twist, conservatives supported the measure, citing the costs of injection drugs and legal appeals. Maryland in 2013 was the last state to end capital punishment.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    A crackdown on prescription drug abuse swept across the Deep South today. Agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration raided clinics, pharmacies and other sites in Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi. It's part of a nearly year-long operation.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    And on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrials lost 27 points to close back below 18,300. The Nasdaq gained less than two, and the S&P 500 slipped 2.

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