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Apr 9, 2014

Analysis – Troubled Mideast peace effort compounds U.S. policy woes in region

WASHINGTON/RIYADH (Reuters) – Addressing the United Nations General Assembly in September, President Barack Obama declared the pursuit of Israeli-Palestinian peace one of the two main U.S. foreign policy priorities for his second term.

Fast-forward to today, the Obama administration faces a stark choice: expend more energy on a faltering peace process or absorb the hit to an already-troubled record in the Middle East and walk away from negotiations.

Apr 1, 2014

Proposed release of Israeli spy raises ire of U.S. spies

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. proposal to consider freeing a jailed Israeli spy caught many American intelligence officials off-guard and will face stiff opposition if the Obama administration decides to go ahead with it in a bid to salvage Middle East peace talks, officials said.

Negotiations over the fate of Jonathan Pollard, a former naval intelligence analyst serving a life sentence for espionage, have stoked deep concern in the ranks of U.S. spy services already reeling from leaks orchestrated by former national security contractor Edward Snowden.

Mar 25, 2014

Obama aims to soothe Saudi fears with Riyadh visit

WASHINGTON/RIYADH (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama will seek to ease Saudi concerns that he is neglecting an old ally when he visits Riyadh on Friday, months after top Saudis objected to what they saw as a growing rapprochement between Washington and their rival Iran.

Rifts over Middle East policy came to a head last year when Washington worked with other powers to ease sanctions on Iran in exchange for concessions on its disputed nuclear programme, and backed away from air strikes on Tehran’s ally Syria.

Mar 21, 2014

U.S. drops bid to arrange Obama summit with divided Gulf states

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House has abandoned efforts to arrange a summit with Gulf Arab leaders during President Barack Obama’s visit to Saudi Arabia next week because of divisions with the group of regional U.S. allies, Obama’s top national security aide said on Friday.

Obama will go ahead with his scheduled talks with Saudi King Abdullah in Riyadh next Friday, at the end of a trip to Europe that is expected to be dominated by the Ukraine crisis.

Mar 18, 2014

Obama presses Abbas to help break stalemate with Israel

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama pressed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday to help break the stalemate in U.S.-brokered peace talks with Israel, saying leaders on both sides must take political risks before an April deadline.

In White House talks overshadowed by the Ukraine crisis, Abbas acknowledged that time was running out for Middle East negotiations and called on Israel to go ahead with the release of a final group of Palestinian prisoners by the end of March to show it is serious about peace efforts.

Mar 17, 2014

Obama urges tough decisions in quest for Israeli-Palestinian peace

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday that it will require tough decisions and risks to achieve peace with Israel and said now is the time for leaders on both sides to “embrace this opportunity.”

In White House talks overshadowed by the Ukraine crisis, Abbas said “time is not on our side” in U.S.-brokered negotiations with Israel and called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to go ahead with the scheduled release of a final group of Palestinian prisoners by the end of March.

Mar 17, 2014

Obama warns Putin that U.S. ready to impose sanctions on Russia

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama told Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday the United States rejected the results of a secession referendum in Ukraine’s Crimea region and warned that Washington was ready to impose sanctions on Moscow over the crisis.

With Washington and its European allies expected to slap “targeted” punitive measures on Russian officials as early as Monday, the White House said Obama made clear to Putin that the dispute could still be resolved diplomatically but that Russia first must halt military incursions into Ukrainian territory.

Mar 16, 2014

U.S. warns Russia it faces isolation, sanctions in coming days

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House warned President Vladimir Putin on Sunday that Moscow would face sanctions in coming days and international isolation that will hurt Russia’s economy, as Washington fumed over a referendum in Ukraine’s Crimea region that it was powerless to stop.

“We are putting as much pressure on the Russians as we can to do the right thing,” White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer said as voters in Crimea, under the control of Russian forces, decided whether to break away from Ukraine and join Russia.

Mar 11, 2014

Biden’s role on Ukraine underscores risks for his political future

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – As the bloodiest day of anti-government protests in Ukraine was drawing to a close last month, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden called President Viktor Yanukovich for the second time in three days and delivered a blunt message.

Pull back your security forces now and accept a European-brokered settlement or you will be held accountable, Biden warned the pro-Russian leader. “It WILL catch up with you.”

Mar 5, 2014

Netanyahu warns on Iran, no concessions for Palestinians

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned the United States and other world powers on Tuesday not to allow Iran to retain the ability to enrich uranium, and urged Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state if they wanted peace.

Addressing the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC just a day after White House talks, Netanyahu avoided any explicit criticism of President Barack Obama but underscored the main differences with him over U.S.-led nuclear diplomacy with Iran.

    • 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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