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Apr 7, 2015

U.S. could recommend taking Cuba off state terrorism list in days: official

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. State Department could recommend within a few days that Cuba be removed from its list of countries accused of sponsoring terrorism, a U.S. official said on Tuesday, a major move toward rapprochement ahead of a hemispheric summit this week.

President Barack Obama ordered the review after announcing a diplomatic breakthrough with Havana on Dec. 17, and he has vowed to act quickly once he receives the State Department’s recommendation.

Apr 3, 2015

Iran nuclear agreement presents Obama with promise and peril

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama still faces a formidable task in preventing a skeptical Congress from sabotaging a nuclear pact with Iran and keeping talks from collapsing over the fine print, despite achieving a surprisingly detailed initial agreement that he hailed as “historic.”

While major world powers and Iran made genuine progress in reaching a broad agreement in Switzerland on Thursday, the real test looms at the end of June when the deal must be finalized.

Mar 27, 2015

With Yemen strikes, Saudis show growing independence from U.S.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia kept some key details of its military action in Yemen from Washington until the last moment, U.S. officials said, as the kingdom takes a more assertive regional role to compensate for perceived U.S. disengagement.

The Middle East’s top oil power told the United States weeks ago it was weighing action in Yemen but only informed Washington of the exact details just before Thursday’s unprecedented air strikes against Iran-allied Houthi rebels, the officials said.

Mar 26, 2015

Saudi Arabia, allies launch air campaign in Yemen against Houthi fighters

ADEN/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia announced on Wednesday it had launched military operations in Yemen, carrying out air strikes in coordination with a 10-country coalition seeking to beat back Houthi militia forces besieging the southern city of Aden where the country’s president had taken refuge.

At a news conference in Washington, Saudi Ambassador Adel al-Jubeir said Gulf Arab allies and others had joined with the desert kingdom in the military campaign in a bid “to protect and defend the legitimate government” of Yemen President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. He declined to give any information on Hadi’s whereabouts.

Mar 20, 2015

Netanyahu row casts doubt on Obama pledge to ‘have Israel’s back’

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama, who once famously said he would “always have Israel’s back,” may be rethinking that promise as aides begin weighing options in response to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pre-election disavowal of a two-state solution to the Middle East conflict.

Following Obama’s warning that the United States would “reassess” its relationship with Israel, the administration is not only reconsidering the diplomatic cover it has long given Israel at the United Nations but is also looking at a range of other possibilities to put pressure on its historically close ally, U.S. officials said.

Mar 19, 2015

Obama tells Netanyahu U.S. to ‘reassess’ policy on Israel, Mideast diplomacy

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama told Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday that Washington would “reassess” its options on U.S.-Israel relations and Middle East diplomacy after the Israeli prime minister took a position against Palestinian statehood during his re-election campaign, a White House official said.

Obama’s telephone call to Netanyahu followed a television interview in which the Israeli leader backed away from his pre-election declaration that there would be no Palestinian state on his watch, an about-face apparently aimed at quelling U.S. criticism triggered by his comments.

Mar 19, 2015

Netanyahu backs away from rejection of Palestinian state; White House unmoved

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denied on Thursday abandoning his commitment to the eventual creation of a Palestinian state, backing away from pre-election comments that deepened a rift with Israel’s ally the United States.

But the White House, unmoved by Netanyahu’s post-election effort to backtrack, delivered a fresh rebuke against the Israeli leader and signaled that Washington may reconsider its long-standing policy of shielding Israel from international pressure at the United Nations.

Mar 18, 2015

With Israeli vote in, Netanyahu could remain thorn in Obama’s side

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – After six years of testy relations, U.S. President Barack Obama may have to resign himself to the likelihood that he has not seen the last of Benjamin Netanyahu.

A better-than-expected showing by the Israeli prime minister in Tuesday’s closely fought election raises the prospect that he could remain a thorn in Obama’s side, with the two men increasingly at odds over Iran diplomacy and Middle East peacemaking.

Mar 16, 2015

No place for Assad in Syria talks, U.S. officials say

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States insisted on Monday it would never negotiate directly with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, edging away from comments made by Secretary of State John Kerry, and it cast doubt on any immediate prospects for third-party talks to resolve Syria’s civil war.

Kerry’s apparent suggestion in a CBS television interview on Sunday that there could be a place for Assad in efforts to reach a diplomatic solution to the Syrian conflict drew swift criticism from European and Arab allies.

Mar 13, 2015

Senior U.S. diplomat to return to Havana for new Cuba talks

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. government is moving as quickly as possible to decide whether to remove Cuba from the U.S. list of terrorism-sponsoring countries, a senior State Department official said on Friday ahead of a new round of talks in Havana next week.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, offered no timetable for a decision but said that Washington disagreed with Havana’s effort to link the issue to broader negotiations on reopening embassies and restoring diplomatic relations that were severed more than 50 years ago.

    • 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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