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News Wrap: Kerry and Putin meet in Russia to discuss Ukraine, Syria

In our news wrap Tuesday, Secretary of State John Kerry met face-to-face with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia, to discuss divisions over Ukraine, Syria and other issues. Also, Iran announced that its warships will escort a cargo ship to Yemen, drawing a warning from Washington. The Iranians said they’re sending humanitarian aid, not weapons for Shiite rebels.

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  • GWEN IFILL:

    Secretary of State John Kerry met face-to-face today with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but there was little sign of easing tensions. Top officials from both countries sat down in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi.

    The agenda was topped by divisions over Ukraine, Syria and other issues. Opposition activists in Moscow reported at least 220 Russian soldiers have died in the Ukraine conflict. The Kremlin denies its troops are even fighting there.

    Iran drew a warning from Washington today, after announcing its warships will escort a cargo ship to Yemen. The Iranians said they’re sending humanitarian aid, not weapons for Shiite rebels. The rebels are fighting a government backed by Saudi Arabia. But White House officials said if Iran really wants to help Yemen, it should work with the U.N.

  • JOSH EARNEST, White House Press Secretary:

    Iran understands that they can’t afford to play games with humanitarian assistance to people who are in dire need, like those we see in Yemen. And the Iranians know as well as anyone that a political stunt to defy their regional rivals outside the U.N. system is provocative and risks the collapse of the U.N.-led humanitarian cease-fire.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    That cease-fire officially took effect this evening, after fighting flared for much of the day. A new wave of Saudi-led airstrikes blasted Houthi rebels across the capital city of Sanaa. Heavy fighting also continued in the country’s south.

    U.N. refugee officials warned today that thousands of migrants from Bangladesh and Myanmar are stranded at sea. They say many were abandoned in rickety boats after Thailand cracked down on smuggling operations. Now they’re trying to reach Malaysia and Indonesia.

    Jeffrey Savage is with the U.N. Refugee Operation In Indonesia.

  • JEFFREY SAVAGE, United Nations Refugee Agency:

    They have been stuck out at sea for weeks, for months. They have been held on these ships, and then the smugglers just deserted them and left them with very little food, very little water, no fuel for the engines. And they have been drifting.

    So, it’s something that really is a massive humanitarian crisis waiting to happen.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Many of the migrants are Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar trying to escape severe discrimination.

    Back in this country, a prosecutor in Madison, Wisconsin, announced he will not charge a white policeman who killed a biracial man last march. Police said 19-year-old Tony Robinson was unarmed, but was shot after he punched the officer. The district attorney said today the use of force was legal, and he urged the community to remain peaceful.

  • ISMAEL OZANNE, District Attorney, Dane County:

    I am reminded that true and lasting change doesn’t come from violence, but from exercising our voices and our votes.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Tony Robinson’s family has criticized the prosecutor, and called today for a new march to the state capitol.

    “Rolling Stone” magazine now faces a defamation suit for a discredited story about a gang rape at the University of Virginia. The school’s associate dean of students sued today for $7.8 million. Police have said they found no evidence that the alleged rape occurred, and a Columbia University review cited “Rolling Stone” for extensive journalistic failings.

    In economic news, telecommunications giant Verizon will buy AOL for $4.4 billion. The move is expected to turn the nation’s largest wireless provider into a major player in mobile video and advertising. AOL’s holdings include The Huffington Post and TechCrunch.

    On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 37 points to close below 18070. The Nasdaq fell 17 points and the S&P 500 slipped six.

    The New England Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady are going to fight NFL penalties for using underinflated footballs. Brady’s agent says he will appeal his suspension for four games at the beginning of next season. And Patriots owner Bob Kraft said he will challenge the million-dollar fine imposed on his team and the loss of two draft choices.

  • And it’s confirmed:

    President Obama will build his presidential library on the South Side of Chicago. His foundation announced today the complex will rise on parkland near the University of Chicago. Both the president and Mrs. Obama once worked at the school, and while she is a native, he launched his political career there.

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