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Michele Kelemen

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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the Trump administration is open to direct talks with North Korea as long as the agenda is right — that is, denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.

As he prepared to chair a U.N. Security Council meeting on the subject, Tillerson sat down with NPR's Steve Inskeep to explain his approach. The secretary says North Korea has to come to the table willing to talk about giving up its nuclear weapons.

Beth Herman says she's praying a lot these days for her brother, who was detained by Turkish authorities last October and has been in prison since December.

Andrew Brunson is an evangelical Presbyterian pastor from North Carolina who has lived in Turkey for more than two decades, Herman says, serving as the pastor of the Izmir Resurrection Church.

"He's there because he loves Turkey and the people of Turkey," Herman says.

Brunson, 48, was charged with being part of an armed terrorist group, something Herman and his other supporters say is "totally false."

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Earlier this month, two U.N. investigators went missing in a remote area of the Democratic Republic of Congo. And now the U.N. confirms their bodies have been found. Human rights groups are demanding answers as NPR's Michele Kelemen reports.

At the State Department on Wednesday, officials from 68 countries and organizations gathered for a two-day summit to coordinate plans to fight ISIS. This was the first full meeting of the Global Coalition on the Defeat of ISIS since 2014, and a chance for the Trump administration to flesh out what it wants to do differently.

So far, it is mainly stepping up a fight that the Obama administration put in motion.

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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is calling for a new approach to North Korea. He's in Asia now consulting with Japan, South Korea and China over how to deal with Pyongyang. The options, though, are limited, as NPR's Michele Kelemen reports.

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The Trump administration has cleared out the top echelons at the State Department. The latest departures include the assistant secretaries of state for Asia and Africa, who left this week.

Foreign governments are noticing all the vacancies — and so is Congress.

"We've had a lot of hearings and we've not had any Trump presentations at any of those hearings," said Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "There's no one to speak on behalf of the Trump administration."

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Throughout the Trump presidency, the State Department briefing room has been dark. That changed today with the first briefing in a month and a half. NPR's Michele Kelemen was there.

Russia's ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak, is not known to seek the limelight. He's a mild-mannered diplomat and an arms control expert who came to Washington as ambassador in 2008. But he has been in the news a lot of late, as Trump administration contacts with him come under scrutiny.

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