WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican lawmakers angered by a White House deal to swap five Taliban prisoners for a captured U.S. soldier in Afghanistan on Monday demanded hearings over why the Obama administration reached the agreement without consulting Congress.
Adding to criticism of the decision to negotiate the release of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl were accusations by some soldiers who served with him that they consider Bergdahl a deserter who cost the lives of several comrades.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States said on Monday it plans to work with and fund the new Palestinian unity government formed after an agreement by the Fatah and Hamas factions, and Israel immediately voiced its disappointment with the U.S. decision.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas swore in a unity government on Monday in a reconciliation deal with Hamas Islamists, who advocate Israel’s destruction.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Senior U.S. lawmakers said on Monday that they would be reluctant to send aid to the new unity government between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Liberation Organization and the Islamist group Hamas.
Abbas swore in the government in a reconciliation deal with Hamas that led Israel to freeze U.S.-brokered peace talks.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Lawmakers urged France on Thursday to cancel the sale of two advanced helicopter carrier ships to Russia and suggested that NATO buy or lease them instead.
“The purchase would send a strong signal to (Russian) President (Vladimir) Putin that the NATO allies will not tolerate or in any way enable his reckless moves,” they said in a letter to NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen obtained by Reuters.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The House of Representatives passed legislation on Wednesday to impose sanctions on Venezuelans responsible for human rights abuses during anti-government protests, despite Obama administration worries that they could threaten talks seeking to ease the unrest.
The bill would authorize the Obama administration to deny U.S. entry visas to Venezuelans deemed responsible for rights abuses during three months of unrest and freeze their assets.
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Impatience with the Venezuelan government is growing over its “total failure” to show good faith in talks to resolve the country’s political crisis, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Wednesday.
Addressing the media during a visit to Mexico City, Kerry said he hoped that sanctions on Venezuela would not be necessary, but that “all options remain on the table.”
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will discuss stalled talks over unrest in Venezuela on a trip to Mexico on Wednesday, a State Department official said, adding that Washington hopes for progress quickly to ease a crisis in which dozens have been killed.
“We feel strongly that all of the democracies in the Western Hemisphere have a pretty important role to play when something is happening in Venezuela,” the official told reporters before leaving on Kerry’s first visit to Mexico as the top U.S. diplomat.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A top U.S. Defense Department official criticized Nigeria on Thursday for being too slow to adapt in response to the threat of Boko Haram, but said Washington is committed to helping fight the group and safely return more than 200 girls taken from their school a month ago.
“In general Nigeria has failed to mount an effective campaign against Boko Haram,” said Alice Friend, the Pentagon’s principal director for African Affairs, in testimony provided to the Senate’s Africa subcommittee ahead of a hearing on Thursday and obtained by Reuters.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A bill to end the government’s bulk collection of telephone records got a unanimous go-ahead on Thursday from a second U.S. congressional committee, but the measure, according to some sources, could actually enhance U.S. surveillance capabilities.
Advancing the first legislative effort at surveillance reform since former contractor Edward Snowden disclosed the program a year ago, the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee unanimously approved by voice vote the “USA Freedom Act.”
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. lawmakers pushed on Thursday for sanctions on Venezuelans linked to human rights violations, but Obama administration officials insisted that acting now would harm negotiations between President Nicolas Maduro’s government and the opposition following weeks of violent protests.
Assistant U.S. Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee she shared lawmakers’ concerns about human rights violations in Venezuela and a lack of results from the talks.