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Sep 3, 2015

Obama to assure Saudi king of U.S. help to counter Iranian threat

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama will assure Saudi King Salman of the U.S. commitment to help counter any Iranian security threat, White House officials said on Wednesday, despite concern among Gulf allies that a new nuclear deal could empower Tehran in the region.

Obama, hosting Salman on Friday on the king’s first U.S. visit since ascending to the throne in January, will seek to allay the fears of Washington’s most important Arab partner that the lifting of sanctions on Iran would allow it to act in destabilizing ways.

Aug 7, 2015

U.S. steps up efforts to meet Obama goal to close Guantanamo prison

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States has secured commitments from a dozen countries to accept nearly half of the 52 Guantanamo prisoners already cleared for transfer, U.S. officials said on Friday, as the Obama administration tries to accelerate efforts to close the military prison.

But the moves will require the final signature of Defense Secretary Ash Carter, which could still delay the process, despite President Barack Obama’s push to empty the prison before he leaves office in 2017.

Aug 6, 2015

Top senator demands State Department documents on human trafficking report

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A powerful Senate committee demanded on Thursday that the State Department hand over all the documents used to rank countries in its annual human trafficking report as lawmakers expressed concern it had been watered down due to political considerations.

Senator Bob Corker, Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations panel, issued the order as members grilled a senior State Department official over whether politics trumped human rights in the higher grades given this year to strategically important countries like Malaysia and Cuba.

Aug 4, 2015

Lawmakers to demand full accounting on human trafficking report

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Senior U.S. lawmakers expressed concern on Tuesday about whether the State Department’s annual global report on human trafficking may have been watered down due to political considerations and vowed to demand a full accounting at a Senate hearing this week.

Human rights groups called for an investigation into why strategically important countries such as Malaysia and Cuba were upgraded from the list of worst offenders in human trafficking, after a Reuters article chronicled how senior U.S. diplomats repeatedly overruled State Department human rights experts.

Aug 4, 2015

U.S. lawmakers to demand full accounting on human trafficking report

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Senior U.S. lawmakers expressed
concern on Tuesday about whether the State Department’s annual
global report on human trafficking may have been watered down
due to political considerations and vowed to demand a full
accounting at a Senate hearing this week.

Human rights groups called for an investigation into why
strategically important countries such as Malaysia and Cuba were
upgraded from the list of worst offenders in human trafficking,
after a Reuters article chronicled how senior U.S. diplomats
repeatedly overruled State Department human rights experts.

Aug 3, 2015

Special Report: State Department watered down human trafficking report

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – In the weeks leading up to a critical annual U.S. report on human trafficking that publicly shames the world’s worst offenders, human rights experts at the State Department concluded that trafficking conditions hadn’t improved in Malaysia and Cuba. And in China, they found, things had grown worse.

The State Department’s senior political staff saw it differently — and they prevailed.

Aug 3, 2015

Special Report – U.S. State Department watered down human trafficking report

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – In the weeks leading up to a critical annual U.S. report on human trafficking that publicly shames the world’s worst offenders, human rights experts at the State Department concluded that trafficking conditions hadn’t improved in Malaysia and Cuba. And in China, they found, things had grown worse.

The State Department’s senior political staff saw it differently — and they prevailed.

Jul 28, 2015

U.S. to parole convicted Israeli spy Pollard on Nov. 21

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Jonathan Pollard, a former U.S. Navy intelligence analyst convicted of spying for Israel, will be released on parole on Nov. 21 after 30 years in prison, a federal parole board ruled on Tuesday.

Pollard’s planned release, which was quickly welcomed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, would remove a longstanding irritant in U.S.-Israel relations at a time of increased friction between the two close allies over President Barack Obama’s landmark nuclear deal with Iran.

Jul 23, 2015

Critics of Iran deal spinning ‘fantasy,’ urges approval – Kerry

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday mounted a furious counterattack against critics of the Iran nuclear deal, telling sceptical lawmakers it would be fantasy to think the United States could simply “bomb away” Tehran’s atomic know-how.

Testifying before Congress for the first time since world powers reached the landmark accord with Iran last week, America’s top diplomat was confronted head-on by Republican accusations that Iranian negotiators had “fleeced” and “bamboozled” him.

Jul 23, 2015

U.S. lawmakers seek to change Cuba travel, shipping rules

WASHINGTON, July 23 (Reuters) – A U.S. Senate committee on
Thursday approved amendments that would end restrictions on
Americans’ travel to Cuba and ease some trading barriers,
advancing efforts to implement President Barack Obama’s
rapprochement with the communist island.

The Appropriations Committee voted with bipartisan support
for a measure that would ease travel limits, making it the first
legislation to pass any congressional committee to facilitate
the drive to normalize relations.

    • 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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