In our news wrap Friday, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro lashed out at the Trump administration after he was indicted on U.S. drug-trafficking charges. In a televised address, Maduro called Trump a “racist cowboy” who was making “false accusations.” Also, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has announced a team to negotiate with the Taliban, in a possible step toward peace talks.
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In the day's other news: President Trump and China's President Xi Jinping spoke by phone. And Beijing says that Xi offered to help the U.S. fight the pandemic. The White House says they agreed to work together. U.S. officials had accused China of covering up the initial outbreak, and China had charged that the U.S. bungled its own response.
The president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, has fired a broadside at President Trump after being indicted on U.S. drug trafficking charges. Washington also offered up to $15 million for information leading to Maduro's arrest. He erupted in a television address last night.
President Nicolas Maduro (through translator):
The government of Donald Trump, in an action that is extravagantly extremist, vulgar, and miserable, has put out a number of false accusations, like a racist cowboy of the 19th century who puts a price on the head of revolutionaries.
The U.S. has been trying to force Maduro out of office since he was widely accused of rigging his own reelection in 2018.
There may be new progress toward peace talks in Afghanistan. President Ashraf Ghani has announced a team to negotiate with the Taliban. His rival, Abdullah Abdullah, has not yet endorsed Ghani's selections. But U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad hailed the announcement today as a meaningful step.
Back in this country, the Environmental Protection Agency is relaxing some pollution regulations. It says oil and gas firms and others may face staffing shortages during the coronavirus pandemic and have trouble complying with the rules. Environmental groups say that it's all part of a broader campaign against the regulations.
And a passing to note. Longtime Republican political strategist John Sears died yesterday of a heart attack at his home in California. Sears served President Richard Nixon as deputy White House counsel, after working on his 1968 campaign. He managed the first two presidential campaigns of Ronald Reagan, almost masterminding the defeat of an incumbent president, Gerald Ford, in 1976, and setting the stage for Reagan's nomination in 1980, before being fired.
John Sears was 79 years old.