Andrew's Feed
Feb 6, 2012

U.S. closes embassy in Syria, vows further pressure

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States closed its embassy in Damascus on Monday and President Barack Obama vowed to ratchet up pressure on Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad to step down, even as world powers remained divided over how to end the crisis.

Washington said it was pulling all of its remaining diplomats out of Syria just two days after Western countries failed to secure a U.N. Security Council resolution that would have backed an Arab League call for Assad to leave power.

Feb 3, 2012

Lawmakers step up warnings on Egypt military aid

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A leading senator warned Egypt’s military-led government on Friday that “the days of blank checks are over” as an Egyptian army team huddled with State Department officials to discuss the future of $1.3 billion in annual U.S. military aid.

Senator Patrick Leahy, a Democrat who chairs the Senate subcommittee in charge of foreign aid, issued a blistering attack on Egypt’s crackdown on local and U.S.-funded pro-democracy groups and warned that Congress could block future aid unless changes are made.

Jan 30, 2012

U.S. Embassy shelters Americans amid Egypt NGO crackdown

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Several American citizens have taken refuge in the U.S. Embassy in Cairo amid a sharpening dispute between Washington and Egypt over U.S.-funded pro-democracy groups in the country, the State Department said on Monday.

“We can confirm that a handful of U.S. citizens have opted to stay in the embassy compound in Cairo while waiting for permission to depart Egypt,” State Department spokeswoman Kate Starr said.

Jan 27, 2012

Egypt plans to send delegation to U.S. as NGO furor mounts

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A Egyptian military team plans to visit the United States next week as Cairo’s crackdown on pro-democracy organizations has called into question the future of U.S. aid to Egypt, American officials said on Friday.

The Egyptian delegation hopes to meet with officials at the State Department and the Pentagon. It will also hold talks on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers will soon consider a new request for aid to Egypt’s military, which now runs about $1.3 billion per year, one official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Jan 24, 2012

U.S. hopeful on Myanmar sanctions but action may be slow

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States is looking at easing sanctions on Myanmar, but needs to see more democratic progress including a smooth April by-election before it can start unwinding decades of overlapping economic and political bans on the country, U.S. lawmakers said on Tuesday.

U.S. officials have said they are encouraged by Myanmar’s reforms thus far, which have included the release of hundreds of political prisoners and spurred the European Union and Australia to begin easing their own sanctions.

Jan 24, 2012

U.S. fears serious famine in troubled Sudan region

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States fears a large-scale famine in Sudan’s restive border states of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile and is boosting pressure in Khartoum to accept aid or face a unilateral assistance operation, a senior U.S. official said on Tuesday.

“We are feeling a lot of pressure, if there’s no international access, to look at ways in which assistance would be carried across the border without their approval,” Princeton Lyman, the Obama administration’s special envoy for Sudan, told reporters.

Jan 20, 2012

U.S. mulls closing Damascus embassy as security worsens

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States warned on Friday that it may soon close its embassy in Syria due to the worsening security situation, a move that could exacerbate tensions between Washington and Damascus over its bloody crackdown on protests.

“While no decision has been made, we have serious concerns about the deteriorating security situation in Damascus,” the State Department said in a written statement

Jan 17, 2012

Clinton takes democratic push to unlikely corner of W.Africa

LOME, Jan 17 (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of Hillary
Clinton started her West Africa trip celebrating democracy,
swooping in for the inauguration of Liberia’s democratically
re-elected president and promising help to Ivory Coast as it
recovers from a bloody post-election civil war.

She wound up the trip on Tuesday sitting in a grandiose
presidential palace in the impoverished nation of Togo, talking
U.N. Security Council politics with a young leader making his
own tentative democratic steps after taking over from his
father, once one of Africa’s longest-ruling strongman.

Jan 17, 2012

Ivory Coast recovery on track, Clinton says

ABIDJAN (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Ivory Coast to press ahead with democratic reforms on Tuesday, saying the country could once again be “the engine of growth” for West Africa.

The once-prosperous former French colony is recovering from a post-election civil war that killed three thousand people and hobbled its economy after more than a decade of political turmoil.

Jan 16, 2012

Liberians tell Johnson-Sirleaf to fight graft

MONROVIA (Reuters) – Liberians urged President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to do more to fight graft and poverty as she was sworn into office on Monday for a second term before regional leaders and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Johnson-Sirleaf was inaugurated in a ceremony on the lawn of the national parliament, with celebratory cannon blasts ringing out to mark the event.