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Jul 1, 2015

U.S.-Cuba embassy deal could boost bid to undercut trade embargo

WASHINGTON/HAVANA (Reuters) – An historic agreement to restore diplomatic ties between Washington and Havana could provide fresh momentum for lawmakers and activists seeking to chip away at – and eventually upend – the 53-year-old U.S. trade embargo.

Despite Democratic President Barack Obama’s renewed call to Congress on Wednesday to lift the embargo, he would face resistance from majority Republicans. The White House has offered no sign that he is considering taking further actions on his own.

Jul 1, 2015

U.S., Cuba restoring diplomatic ties after 54 years

HAVANA/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama affirmed to Cuban President Raul Castro their decision to restore diplomatic relations and said the former Cold War enemies could reopen embassies in each other’s capitals beginning July 20, the Caribbean country said on Wednesday.

Cuba’s foreign ministry cited a letter, which Obama addressed to Castro, that it received from the senior U.S. diplomat in Havana.

Jul 1, 2015

U.S. names new envoy for bid to close Guantanamo prison

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A newly appointed special envoy to lead the Obama administration’s efforts to close the Guantanamo prison said he saw a window of opportunity that could substantially reduce the detainee population there in coming months.

Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday named attorney Lee Wolosky, who served in the National Security Council under the administrations of both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, to a post considered crucial to meeting President Barack Obama’s long-standing promise to shut the internationally condemned jail at the U.S. naval base in Cuba.

Jun 30, 2015

U.S.-Cuba deal to restore ties to be unveiled on Wednesday

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration on Wednesday will announce it has reached an agreement with Cuba to reopen embassies and restore diplomatic relations severed more than five decades ago, U.S. officials said on Tuesday.

President Barack Obama, in Washington, and Secretary of State John Kerry, in Vienna for Iran nuclear talks, will both address the issue, a senior administration official said. A similar announcement is likely to be made by Cuba’s Communist government.

Jun 23, 2015

U.S. response to Kurdish advances in Syria tempered by caution

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration on Tuesday touted Kurdish-led advances against Islamic State in Syria as a model for the U.S.-backed effort to retake territory from the jihadist group, but U.S. officials cautioned that the insurgents remained resilient and could strike back.

By highlighting battlefield gains in northern Syria by a reliable partner on the ground, the White House sought to further justify President Barack Obama’s policy of limiting U.S. military involvement in the fight to reverse Islamic State’s conquests there and in neighboring Iraq.

Jun 22, 2015

Obama, in podcast, uses N-word to make point on racism

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday ignited a storm of social media debate when he used a racial epithet in an interview posted online that discussed race relations following the recent killings of nine black churchgoers.

“It’s not just a matter of it not being polite to say ‘nigger’ in public. That’s not the measure of whether racism still exists or not. It’s not just a matter of overt discrimination,” Obama, the first black U.S. president, told Mark Maron, host of the “WTF” podcast, in an hour-long chat.

Jun 16, 2015

Trade rebuff fuels doubts on Obama bid to counter rising China

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – In his State of the Union address in January, President Barack Obama left little doubt that his pursuit of a landmark Asia-Pacific trade pact was aimed at countering Beijing’s rising influence in the region. “China wants to write the rules … Why would we let that happen?” he asked.

Obama now has the response he did not want: A congressional rebuff to his legacy-defining trade agenda has dealt a humiliating blow – at least for now – to his effort to reassure Asian allies of U.S. engagement, and could allow China to expand its clout at Washington’s expense.

Jun 13, 2015

U.S. sends six Yemeni prisoners from Guantanamo to Oman for resettlement

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Six Yemenis held for more than a decade at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo have been flown to Oman for resettlement, the Pentagon said on Saturday, the latest step in President Barack Obama’s slow push to close the facility.

The release came a week after Defense Secretary Ash Carter said he was working with the White House on a proposal for Congress on shutting the internationally condemned jail at the U.S. naval base in Cuba, where most prisoners have been held without charges or trial.

Jun 13, 2015

Exclusive: U.S.-Cuba deal expected in early July to restore ties, reopen embassies – sources

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration is expected to announce an agreement with Cuba in early July to reopen embassies and restore diplomatic relations severed more than five decades ago, U.S. sources familiar with the matter said on Friday.

The two sides hope to conclude the deal by the first week of next month, clearing the way for Secretary of State John Kerry to visit Havana soon afterwards for a flag-raising ceremony to upgrade the U.S. Interests Section to a full-scale embassy, the sources said.

Jun 10, 2015

U.S. prepares plans for more troops, new base in Iraq: officials

WASHINGTON/JERUSALEM (Reuters) – The United States is expected to announce on Wednesday plans for a new military base in Iraq’s Anbar province and the deployment of around 400 additional U.S. trainers to help Iraqi forces in the fight against Islamic State, a U.S. official said.

The plan would expand the 3,100-strong U.S. contingent of trainers and advisers in Iraq and would mark an adjustment in strategy for President Barack Obama, who is facing mounting criticism for not being tougher in combating Islamic State.

    • 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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