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Jan 22, 2015

Obama will not meet Israel’s Netanyahu on U.S. visit

WASHINGTON/JERUSALEM (Reuters) – President Barack Obama will not meet Israel’s prime minister when he visits Washington in March, the White House said on Thursday, after being blindsided by the Republicans’ invitation to Benjamin Netanyahu to address the U.S. Congress on Iran.

Bernadette Meehan, a spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, said Obama was withholding an invitation for Oval Office talks with Netanyahu because of Israel’s March 17 elections.

Jan 12, 2015

Exclusive: Cuba has freed all 53 prisoners as agreed in U.S. deal – U.S. officials

WASHINGTON/HAVANA (Reuters) – Cuba has released all 53 prisoners it had promised to free, senior U.S. officials said, a major step toward détente with Washington.

The release of the remaining prisoners sets a positive tone for historic talks next week aimed at normalizing relations after decades of hostility, the officials said.

Dec 31, 2014

U.S. sends five Guantanamo prisoners to Kazakhstan for resettlement

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Three Yemenis and two Tunisians held for more than a decade at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo have been flown to Kazakhstan for resettlement, the Pentagon said on Tuesday, the latest in a series of prisoner transfers aimed at closing the facility.

The transfer of the five men followed a recent pledge by President Barack Obama for a stepped-up push to shut the internationally condemned detention center at the U.S. naval base in Cuba where most prisoners have been held without being charged or tried.

Dec 23, 2014

U.S. State Department’s Guantanamo envoy resigns

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The State Department envoy responsible for negotiating prisoner transfers from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is resigning, officials said on Monday, even as President Barack Obama is promising a stepped-up push to close the facility.

The surprise announcement of Clifford Sloan’s departure followed a flurry of detainee repatriations and resettlements, though officials at the State Department and White House had made clear their frustration with the slow handling of such moves by outgoing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

Dec 20, 2014

U.S. sends four Guantanamo prisoners home to Afghanistan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Four Afghans held for over a decade at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have been sent home to Afghanistan, the Pentagon said on Saturday, the latest step in a slow-moving push by the Obama administration to close the facility.

The men were flown to Kabul overnight aboard a U.S. military plane and released to Afghan authorities, the first such transfer of its kind to the war-torn country since 2009, according to a U.S. official.

Dec 20, 2014

Obama vows U.S. response to North Korea over Sony cyber attack

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama vowed on Friday to respond to a devastating cyber attack on Sony Pictures that he blamed on North Korea, and scolded the Hollywood studio for caving in to what he described as a foreign dictator imposing censorship in America.

Obama said the cyber attack caused a lot of damage to Sony but that the company should not have let itself be intimidated into halting the public release of “The Interview,” a lampoon portraying the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Dec 19, 2014

Obama vows U.S. response to N.Korea over Sony cyberattack

WASHINGTON, Dec 19 (Reuters) – President Barack Obama vowed
on Friday to respond to a devastating cyberattack on Sony
Pictures that he blamed on North Korea, and scolded the
Hollywood studio for caving in to what he described as a
dictator trying to impose censorship in America.

Obama said the cyberattack caused a lot of damage to Sony
but that the company should not have let itself be intimidated
into halting the public release of “The Interview,” a lampoon
portraying the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Dec 17, 2014

‘I’m free,’ says American after five years held in Cuba

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The messages from Alan Gross had grown increasingly ominous. In May, on his 65th birthday, the former U.S. aid worker said he would rather die than spend another birthday in a Cuban prison. Two weeks ago, his wife said he was “literally wasting away.”

But arriving home on Wednesday, Gross – released after more than five years of imprisonment on espionage charges – looked almost giddy with joy as he told a news conference in Washington he was “incredibly blessed” to be free.

Dec 17, 2014

Obama to announce major Cuba policy overhaul; prisoners swapped

HAVANA/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama was set to announce a shift in policy toward Cuba on Wednesday and the Associated Press reported the changes would include the opening of an embassy in Cuba and the start of talks to normalize relations.

The shift in policy, which could be one of the biggest changes in decades of animosity between communist-ruled Cuba and the United States, was heralded by Cuba’s release of American aid worker Alan Gross after five years in prison in a reported prisoner exchange with Havana.

Dec 17, 2014

Cuba releases American Alan Gross as U.S. prepares to overhaul Cuba policy

HAVANA/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Cuba has released American aid worker Alan Gross after five years in prison in a reported prisoner exchange with Havana that the United States said on Wednesday heralds an overhaul of U.S. policy toward Cuba.

A U.S. official said Gross was released on humanitarian grounds. CNN reported a prisoner exchange that also included Cuba releasing a U.S. intelligence source and the United States releasing three Cuban intelligence agents.

    • About Matt

      "White House correspondent who has covered news on four continents for Reuters, from Latin American coups and drug wars to the O.J. Simpson murder trial in Los Angeles to the Balkans conflict to the second Palestinian Intifada to the Iraq war. He has covered George W. Bush and is now covering President Barack Obama."
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