France will require children to start school at age 3

Starting next year, France will make it compulsory for children to attend school starting at the age of 3 years old, instead of the current age of 6, French President Emmanuel Macron said Tuesday.

Macron said the change, which will come into effect in September 2019, is intended to prevent extremism in schools and promote better integration into French society.

While some have voiced support for the decision, saying that by reducing the age to 3 it will help their children to feel more accepted in society, others are wary.

“While I do understand the president’s viewpoint, I suggest that in fact it is the parent’s role in teaching their children about tolerance and acceptance of others in society,” an official at the French Ministry of Education in Paris, and a former teacher himself, told ABC News. “I feel that the change could put additional strain on support for teachers and mean that we are placing too much pressure on our children.”

France will have one of the lowest compulsory school starting ages in Europe, alongside Hungary, which also mandates that children attend school starting at age 3. According to a recent report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, around 98 percent of families in France already send their children to school before the age of 6.

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North Korea's Kim Jong Un visits China in 1st foreign trip as leader

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visited China in his first foreign trip since he came to power in 2011.

Kim traveled to the country with his wife, Ri Sol Ju, according to Chinese state media organization Xinhua. He spent Sunday through Wednesday there.

China’s President Xi Jinping held a banquet for Kim and his wife upon their arrival, Xinhua reported.

Xi welcomed Kim warmly, according to Xinhua, and Kim replied that he “enjoyed the support” of China and its people.

The visit was an “unofficial” one, Xinhua reported, adding that Kim told Xi that he came to personally update him on the developments on the Korean peninsula “out of comradeship and moral responsibility.”

Kim said that relations on the Korean peninsula are starting to improve thanks to what Xinhua reported he called North Korea’s taking “the initiative to ease tensions and put forward proposals for peace talks.”

In addition, Kim expressed a willingness for communication with the United States, according to Xinhua.

Kim said North Korea “is willing to have dialogue with the United States and hold a summit of the two countries,” according to Xinhua.

“The issue of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula can be resolved, if South Korea and the United States respond to our efforts with goodwill, create an atmosphere of peace and stability while taking progressive and synchronous measures for the realization of peace,” said Kim, Xinhua reported.

This visit marks a significant thaw in Chinese-North Korean relations, which had grown rather tense in recent years.

Since his sudden rise to power in late 2011, Kim has been distrustful of Chinese influence. This was especially the case with his Uncle Jang Song Thaek, whom Kim had executed for treason in 2013 for apparently selling out North Korea to the Chinese interests.

Xi, meanwhile, was widely known for his strong dislike of the North Korean leader but tolerated him nonetheless.

“The most derogatory expression I’ve ever heard President Xi Jinping use was his description of Kim Jong Un,” former U.S. Ambassador to China Max Baucus told BBC Radio in an interview last year. “He just does not like that man at all.”

The relationship grew even more fraught in 2017 after the assassination of Kim’s half-brother, Kim Jong Nam, who was known to be under Chinese protection, and North Korea’s repeated nuclear tests, which rattled Chinese cities on their shared border.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement of the news: “The Chinese government contacted the White House earlier on Tuesday to brief us on Kim Jong Un’s visit to Beijing. The briefing included a personal message from President Xi to President [Donald] Trump, which has been conveyed to President Trump.

“The United States remains in close contact with our allies South Korea and Japan. We see this development as further evidence that our campaign of maximum pressure is creating the appropriate atmosphere for dialogue with North Korea.”

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27 countries pledge to kick out Russian diplomats over poisoning of ex-spy

More than two dozen nations on three continents this week vowed to boot out Russian diplomats in response to the poisoning of a former Russian spy in England, including the U.S. which is expelling 60 envoys.

The United Kingdom earlier this month sent home 23 Russian diplomats — after saying Russia was behind the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, England.

Since Monday, the following 27 countries and NATO have said that they, too, are expelling Russian diplomats, bringing the total being sent home to Russia to at least 152.

U.S.: 60 diplomats (and it said it would close Russia’s consulate in Seattle)

Ukraine: 13 diplomats

NATO: 7 diplomats will have accreditation withdrawn, three others’ pending accreditation requests have been denied

Canada: 4 diplomats (and denying three others’ applications)

France: 4 diplomats

Germany: 4 diplomats

Poland: 4 diplomats

Lithuania: 3 diplomats

Czech Republic: 3 diplomats

Moldova: 3 diplomats

Netherlands: 2 diplomats

Italy: 2 diplomats

Denmark: 2 diplomats

Spain: 2 diplomats

Albania: 2 diplomats

Australia: 2 diplomats

Estonia: 1 diplomat

Latvia: 1 diplomat

Romania: 1 diplomat

Finland: 1 diplomat

Croatia: 1 diplomat

Hungary: 1 diplomat

Sweden: 1 diplomat

Norway: 1 diplomat

Macedonia: 1 diplomat

Ireland: 1 diplomat

Belgium: 1 diplomat

Montenegro: 1 diplomat (and withdrawing the status of one honorary consul)

The president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, suggested there could be more measures to come.

Russia’s foreign ministry on Monday issued a statement today protesting the U.S. and European expulsions of Russian diplomats, calling it a “provocative step” and warning that it will respond. Moscow did not say explicitly how it would act, but after the U.K. kicked out 23 Russian diplomats this month, Russia expelled the same number of British diplomats.

“Rest assured, we will respond,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday, without offering specifics. “No one would want to tolerate such obnoxiousness and we won’t either.”

Skripal and his daughter, Yulia Skripal, were found slumped over, unconscious on a park bench in the southern English town of Salisbury. The U.K. has accused Russia of bearing responsibility for the March 4 attack, which British officials say involved a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed secretly by Russia — an assessment shared by the United States.

Russia has denied any involvement.

ABC News’ Dragana Jovanovic contributed reporting from London, ABC News’ Clark Bentson contributed reporting from Rome and ABC News’ Patrick Reevell contributed reporting from Moscow.

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22 countries pledge to kick out Russian diplomats over poisoning of ex-spy

More than 20 nations on three continents Monday vowed to boot Russian diplomats in response to the poisoning of a former Russian spy in England, just as the United States announced it was responding by expelling 60 Russian intelligence officers.

The United Kingdom earlier this month sent home 23 Russian diplomats — after saying Russia was behind the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, England — and the following countries said Monday they, too, were expelling Russian diplomats — at least 115 total:

U.S.: 60 diplomats (and it said it would close Russia’s consulate in Seattle)

Ukraine: 13 diplomats

Canada: 4 diplomats (and denying three others’ applications)

France: 4 diplomats

Germany: 4 diplomats

Poland: 4 diplomats

Lithuania: 3 diplomats

Czech Republic: 3 diplomats

Netherlands: 2 diplomats

Italy: 2 diplomats

Denmark: 2 diplomats

Spain: 2 diplomats

Albania: 2 diplomats

Australia: 2 diplomats (announced Tuesday local time)

Estonia: 1 diplomat

Latvia: 1 diplomat

Romania: 1 diplomat

Finland: 1 diplomat

Croatia: 1 diplomat

Hungary: 1 diplomat

Sweden: 1 diplomat

Norway: 1 diplomat

The president of the European Community, Donald Tusk, suggested there could be more measures to come.

Russia’s foreign ministry issued a statement today protesting the U.S. and European expulsions of Russian diplomats, calling it a “provocative step” and warning that Russia will respond. It did not say explicitly how it would act, but after the U.K. kicked out 23 Russians this month, Russia expelled 23 British diplomats.

Skripal and his daughter, Yulia Skripal, were found slumped over, unconscious on a park bench in the southern English town of Salisbury. The U.K. has accused Russia of bearing responsibility for the March 4 attack, which British officials say involved a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed secretly by Russia — an assessment shared by the United States.

Russia has denied any involvement.

ABC News’ Dragana Jovanovic contributed reporting from London, ABC News’ Clark Bentson contributed reporting from Rome and ABC News’ Patrick Reevell contributed reporting from Moscow.

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Gas leak from water heater likely killed American family in Mexico, official says

A gas leak from a faulty water heater is likely to blame for the deaths of an Iowa family sleeping at a seaside Mexican condo earlier this month, according to a prosecutor.

The condo’s water heater “was leaking gas, maybe from use or lack or maintenance” and likely emitted “a high level” of toxic gas, Miguel Angel Pech, lead prosecutor of the coastal state of Quintana Roo, said during an interview by a local radio program operated by Grupo Formula.

Kevin Sharp and Amy Sharp, and their children Sterling Wayne, 12, and Adrianna Marie, 7, died as a result of “asphyxiation by inhalation of toxic gases,” according to autopsy results.

Amy Sharp’s sister, Renee Hoyt, told ABC News soon after her sister and her family were reported missing that they had flown from St. Louis to Cancun for a seven-day spring break vacation and were staying in the coastal town of Tulum.

Hoyt said she received a text message from her sister that they’d arrived at their condo. It was the last time she heard from her sister.

The Sharps were no-shows on their return flight to St. Louis on the evening of March 21.

“When they got off the plane, their instructions were to text home and let us know that you made it back,” Hoyt said.

Relatives back in Iowa were still attempting to prepare for the return of the family members’ bodies by Wednesday.

A relative of the Sharps told ABC News on Monday that funeral plans were pending and that “the family knows what it wants to do” but nothing had been confirmed.

The condo rented by the Sharps was located at Residencial TAO. Its homeowners association confirmed on Sunday that Mexican authorities were let into the property and ultimately found the Sharps after relatives inquired as to their whereabouts.

The homeowners association said in a statement that the vacation property shifted ownership in November 2013 to a private owner who then became “accountable for its maintenance.”

ABC News’ Ben Gittleson and Bill Hutchinson contributed to this report.

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The Latest: 32 injured, 5 seriously in Kosovo clashes

The Latest on Kosovo-Serbia tensions (all times local):

10:30 p.m.

A doctor in northern Kosovo says 32 people have been injured, including five seriously, during clashes with Kosovo police during the arrest of a senior Serbian government official.

Milan Ivanovic said Monday the injured have been treated in a local hospital in the divided town of Mitrovica and discharged.

Serbia’s president, Aleksandar Vucic, has said that Marko Djuric, government’s chief negotiator in EU-mediated talks on Kosovo, was beaten when arrested and will be examined in a Serbian hospital.

Kosovo authorities have said that Djuric was expelled from Kosovo after he was released from detention. They say Djuric was arrested earlier Monday for entering the country illegally.

Officials say Kosovo police have fired stun grenades and tear gas to disperse protesters in Mitrovica and arrest Djuric.

———

10:15 p.m.

Serbia’s president has called Kosovo a “terrorist” and “bandit” state supported by Western powers and accused it of “a brutal provocation” after the arrest of a senior Serbian official.

In a strongly-worded address aired live on Serbian media and in northern Serb-dominated Kosovo, Aleksandar Vucic said Monday that Serbia will prosecute those who arrested Marko Djuric in the divided northern town of Mitrovica.

Vucic says that “we will not let this go unpunished.” But Vucic stopped short of pulling out of European Union-mediated talks on normalizing ties with the former province whose 2008 split Belgrade doesn’t recognize.

He says “we will do everything we can to preserve peace but we will not allow anyone to jeopardize the security of our citizens.” He says Djuric’s arrest is a “brutal provocation, a senseless criminal act.”

———

9:10 p.m.

The European Union’s foreign policy chief has called for restraint in Kosovo and Serbia after the brief detention of a Serb official banned from visiting the divided town of Mitrovica.

Federica Mogherini says she spoke with Serbia President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo counterpart Hashim Thaci following the incident earlier Monday.

Serb official Marko Djuric was detained and then expelled from Kosovo. During the incident, Kosovo police officers also fired tear gas and stun grenades at Serb protesters.

Mogherini tweeted that she deplored what happened in Kosovo. She said: “#Djuric now free on his way back. Need calm & preserve dialogue.”

The incident was likely to inflame tensions between the two foes, which fought a brutal war in 1999.

———

8:35 p.m.

Kosovo’s foreign minister has hailed police for “acting in line with our country’s laws” after detaining and then expelling a Serb official banned from visiting a divided northern town.

Behgjet Pacolli said that after all the procedures were completed Djuric’s deportation out of Kosovo was being carried out.

Pacolli said “he has been warned several times to respect Kosovo laws, like every citizen should respect the host’s laws wherever one may go.”

Senior Serb official Marko Djuric was detained after he illegally entered Kosovo.

———

7:40 p.m.

Kosovo’s president and police say they have released from arrest Serbia’s chief negotiator in EU-mediated talks with Kosovo, and expelled him from the country.

Senior Serb official Marko Djuric was arrested earlier after he illegally entered Kosovo. President Hashim Thaci says police has accompanied Djuric to the border crossing point between Kosovo and Serbia.

Thaci called for calm, saying: “This case should not violate the communication between Kosovo and Serbia … the efforts for normalization, for good inter-neighborly ties and reconciliation between Kosovo and Serbia.”

———

6:55 p.m.

A Serbian official has accused Kosovo of a “brutal use of force” in the arrest of Serbia’s chief negotiator in European Union-mediated talks with Kosovo.

Milovan Drecun, who heads a Serbian parliamentary committee dealing with Kosovo, urged the immediate release of Marko Djuric. He says Kosovo must withdraw its police units from the Serb-populated north and NATO-led peacekeepers should move in.

Drecun asks “where is KFOR?” He was using an acronym for the peacekeeping troops that deployed in 1999 after a NATO air war forced Serbia to pull out of its former province.

Drecun adds “the question is whether it makes any sense to talk and negotiate any longer.”

Serbian state television has reported that Kosovo police also have fired tear gas and stun grenades at Serb protesters in northern Kosovo.

———

6:20 p.m.

Serbian state television says the country’s top security body will hold an emergency meeting following the arrest of a Serbian government official in northern Kosovo.

The RTS report says Serbia’s president, Aleksandar Vucic, has called the meeting of the National Security Council for 1730 GMT (1 p.m. EDT) in Belgrade, the capital.

The meeting of the council that comprises top state and security officials was earlier planned for Tuesday morning.

Serbian TV has reported that Kosovo police arrested Serbia’s chief negotiator in EU-mediated talks with Kosovo, Marko Djuric, on Monday and fired tear gas and stun grenades at Serb protesters in northern Kosovo.

Kosovo police said they sent reinforcements to stop four senior Serb officials from visiting Kosovo’s north. But two of them arrived in the Serb-part of the divided town of Mitrovica later Monday.

———

5:45 p.m.

Serbian state television says Kosovo police have arrested one Serb official and fired tear gas and stun grenades at Serb protesters in northern Kosovo.

Kosovo police said Monday they have sent reinforcements to stop four senior Serb officials from visiting Kosovo’s north. But two of them arrived in the Serb-part of the divided town of Mitrovica later Monday.

Serbia’s state Tanjug news agency said that Serbia’s defense minister, the chief Serb negotiator in the EU-mediated talks between Kosovo and Serbia, a senior aide of President Aleksandar Vucic and the country’s culture minister were banned from entering Kosovo.

State TV reported that Marko Djuric, the Serb negotiator, was arrested which triggered protests and the firing of tear gas and stun grenades.

———

1 p.m.

Kosovo police say they have sent reinforcements to stop four senior Serb officials from visiting Kosovo’s north.

Serbia’s state Tanjug news agency said that Serbia’s defense minister, the chief Serb negotiator in the EU-mediated talks between Kosovo and Serbia, a senior aide of Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic and the country’s culture minister were banned from entering Kosovo on Monday.

Serb officials earlier said they would hold the visit despite the decision by Kosovo authorities to prohibit their entry.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, but Belgrade does not recognize the split and is seeking to maintain influence in Kosovo’s north, where most of the country’s Serb minority is located.

Serb officials must seek official clearance from Kosovo’s authorities before any visit.

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