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Sep 18, 2015

Obama chips away at Cuba embargo, discusses efforts with Raul Castro

WASHINGTON/HAVANA, Sept 18 (Reuters) – The United States
announced new rules on Friday to further ease trade, travel and
investment restrictions with Cuba, but Cuban President Raul
Castro told President Barack Obama that Washington should go
even further and lift its economic embargo on the
Communist-ruled island.

The rare phone call between the two leaders followed the
unveiling of changes that will allow certain U.S. companies to
establish offices in Cuba, expand banking and Internet
activities and eliminate limits on the amount of money that can
be taken there, U.S. officials said.

Sep 18, 2015

Obama chips away at Cuba embargo, easing business and travel rules

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration announced wide-ranging new rules on Friday to ease trade, travel and investment restrictions with Cuba, the latest effort to chip away at the long-standing U.S. economic embargo amid a diplomatic thaw between the two former Cold War foes.

The regulatory changes will allow certain U.S. companies to establish offices on Cuba for the first time in decades, expand banking activities and eliminate limits on the amount of money that can be taken to the Communist-ruled island, U.S. officials said.

Sep 16, 2015

Obama to take tough but tempered line with China’s Xi

WASHINGTON/BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s economic powerhouse is slowing, destabilizing global markets. Beijing’s neighbors, unnerved over its pursuit of territorial claims, are increasingly cozying up to Washington. A threat of U.S. cyber sanctions looms over Chinese companies.

It might seem an ideal time for U.S. President Barack Obama to take advantage of Beijing’s troubles and get tough when he hosts Chinese leader Xi Jinping for a state visit on Sept. 25.

Sep 10, 2015

U.S. urged to tighten cyber security to counter Chinese hacking

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States must beef up cyber security against Chinese hackers targeting a broad range of U.S. interests to raise the cost to China of engaging in such activities, America’s top intelligence official said on Thursday.

The testimony by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper before a congressional committee added to pressure on Beijing over its conduct in cyberspace just weeks before Chinese President Xi Jinping makes a state visit to Washington.

Sep 6, 2015

Critics push U.S. to help Europe by taking more refugees

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States came under more pressure on Sunday to help Europe find sanctuary for a flood of immigrants displaced by war and chaos, but Washington showed no signs of planning a dramatic increase in its intake of refugees.

David Miliband, head of the International Rescue Committee and former British foreign secretary, called on the United States to bring out “the kind of leadership America has shown on these kind of issues” in the past.

Sep 6, 2015

U.S. voices concern to Russia over latest military moves in Syria

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Secretary of State John Kerry told his Russian counterpart on Saturday the United States was deeply concerned about reports that Moscow was moving toward a major military build-up in Syria widely seen as aimed at bolstering President Bashar al-Assad.

U.S. authorities have detected “worrisome preparatory steps,” including transport of prefabricated housing units for hundreds of people to a Syrian airfield, that could signal that Russia is readying deployment of heavy military assets there, a senior U.S. official told Reuters.

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.

    • 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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