National Security correspondent, Washington DC
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Feb 9, 2014

U.S. aid plan seeks to shield Afghanistan from end to war economy

KABUL (Reuters) – The Obama administration will unveil on Monday a package of aid initiatives it hopes will help Afghanistan, still one of the world’s poorest countries after a dozen years of massive international aid efforts, shield itself from the departure of foreign troops and an expected drop in assistance.

The announcement from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) of three new development initiatives worth almost $300 million is part of a U.S. effort to ensure that Afghanistan, as its ‘war economy’ ends, won’t slide backwards into greater poverty or reverse gains made over the last 12 years in health, education and other areas.

Feb 5, 2014

U.S. freezes assets of Pakistan-based Haqqani militants

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration, under pressure from Congress to act against Pakistan-based militants blamed for fueling violence in Afghanistan, moved on Wednesday to freeze the assets of three suspected militants linked to the hard-line Haqqani network.

The Treasury Department said that Saidullah Jan, Yahya Haqqani and Muhammad Omar Zadran had been named “specially designated global terrorists,” meaning that assets belonging to the men within U.S. jurisdiction would be frozen.

Feb 1, 2014

US defense boss seeks to put diplomacy ahead of military might

MUNICH, Feb 1 (Reuters) – The top U.S. defense official on
Saturday underscored the Obama administration’s intention to
shift the focus of its foreign policy away from military might
toward diplomacy.

Speaking at the Munich security conference, U.S. Defense
Secretary Chuck Hagel said he and Secretary of State John Kerry
“have both worked to restore balance to the relationship between
American defense and diplomacy”.

Feb 1, 2014

West and Russia accuse each other of ‘coercing’ Ukraine

MUNICH (Reuters) – The United States and Europe exchanged angry words with Russia on Saturday in a tug-of-war over Ukraine, with U.S., EU and NATO leaders saying Moscow must not strong-arm Kiev into an unpopular alliance.

At conference in Munich where Western diplomats met leaders of the Ukrainian opposition, United States Secreatary of State John Kerry said the protesters believe “their futures do not have to lie with one country alone, and certainly not coerced”.

Jan 30, 2014

U.S. accuses Syria of dragging its feet on chemical arms handover

WASHINGTON/WARSAW, Jan 30 (Reuters) – The United States on
Thursday accused Syria of dragging its feet on the handover of
chemical weapons, a delay that puts at risk what President
Barack Obama touted only this week as a U.S. diplomatic
achievement in Syria’s civil war.

Saying that just 4 percent of Syria’s deadliest chemical
weapons materials had been removed, the Obama administration
said the Syrian government’s requests for additional equipment
were “without merit” and demanded action to get back on schedule
to comply with an international disarmament deal.

Jan 30, 2014

U.S. concerned by chemical weapons delay, urges Syria to comply

WARSAW (Reuters) – The United States is concerned that the Syrian government is behind schedule in removing chemical weapons materials due to be destroyed, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Thursday, calling on Syria to comply with an international disarmament deal.

“The United States is concerned that the Syrian government is behind in delivering these chemical weapons precursor materials on time with the schedule that was agreed to,” Hagel told reporters during a visit to Poland.

Jan 27, 2014

U.S. moves forward with attack helicopter sale to Iraq

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration notified Congress on Monday of plans to sell 24 Apache attack helicopters to Iraq, part of an effort to bolster the military against al Qaeda-linked militants, after addressing lawmakers’ concerns that held up the sale for months.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency said on its website that it had informed Congress of the possible helicopter sale to the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who is in a standoff with Islamist militants in the western province of Anbar two years after the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

Jan 24, 2014

Iraq politician warns elections may further alienate Sunnis

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The speaker of Iraq’s parliament warned on Friday that upcoming elections might be used to further marginalize already-frustrated Sunni Muslims, who have chafed against what they call unfair treatment from the country’s Shi’ite prime minister.

Usama al-Nujaifi, a Sunni, said in an interview during a visit to Washington that he feared attempts to discourage voting or “provoke the situation” in Sunni areas, or to sideline certain would-be candidates, were designed “to weaken Sunni representation in parliament.”

Jan 22, 2014

U.S. eyes options for Afghanistan after Congress cuts aid

WASHINGTON, Jan 21 (Reuters) – The Obama administration is
considering ways to ensure future financial assistance for
Afghanistan after U.S. lawmakers halved development aid to the

In a massive spending bill signed into law on Friday by
President Barack Obama, lawmakers provided $1.12 billion to
Afghanistan for fiscal 2014 for overall civilian assistance, a
50 percent reduction from the previous fiscal year. It was still
unclear, however, how much aid the country would actually
receive for 2014.

Jan 16, 2014

Top Iraq lawmaker to visit Washington next week

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The speaker of Iraq’s parliament, Usama al-Nujaifi, will visit Washington next week to meet with senior Obama administration officials as Iraq seeks to fend off a surge in violence.

A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that Nujaifi, one of most senior politicians from Iraq’s Sunni Muslim minority, would make the visit in response to an invitation made last fall by Vice President Joe Biden.

    • About Missy

      "Prior to heading the Mexico bureau, Missy was deputy bureau chief in Baghdad. She has also covered commodities in Washington, DC and worked in Peru, Argentina and Egypt for Reuters."
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