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Jun 10, 2014

White House-Congress rift over Bergdahl deal deepens

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A political storm over the trade of five Taliban inmates for a captured American soldier intensified on Monday when Obama administration officials told U.S. lawmakers that up to 90 people within the administration – but no members of Congress – were told in advance about the swap.

“It strikes me as unfortunate that they could have 80 to 90 people in the administration aware of what was happening and not be able to trust a single Republican or Democrat in the House or the Senate,” Representative Greg Walden of Oregon, a member of the House of Representatives Republican leadership, told reporters after leaving a briefing on the exchange.

Jun 5, 2014

U.S. expects more Guantanamo transfers despite Bergdahl controversy

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration expects more inmates will be transferred from the Guantanamo Bay military prison this year, a U.S. official said on Thursday, despite the political firestorm over the exchange of five Taliban detainees for the last American soldier held in Afghanistan.

“There are a significant number of transfers in the pipeline at various stages, and I think you are going to be seeing substantial progress this year,” a senior administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told a briefing for reporters on moves toward closing the base.

Jun 4, 2014

U.S. senators head to Europe amid security funding questions

WASHINGTON, June 4 (Reuters) – Three U.S. senators will
visit Eastern Europe this week to reinforce U.S. support for
allies worried by Russian aggression,
although it was not clear whether Congress will back President
Barack Obama’s call for up to $1 billion in security funding for
the region.

“It’s very important to send a message from both the
executive and legislative branches to our NATO allies that we’re
serious about re-investing in this alliance,” U.S. Senator Chris
Murphy, chairman of the Senate’s Europe subcommittee, said in an
interview.

Jun 3, 2014

Obama defends deal that freed soldier amid growing demands for hearings

WASHINGTON/WARSAW (Reuters) – President Barack Obama defended on Tuesday the prisoner swap deal that freed a U.S. soldier from Taliban captivity in Afghanistan, and the Army pledged to investigate the circumstances of his capture after fellow soldiers said he had deserted.

Trying to defuse concerns of members of Congress who said the president broke the law by not giving them advance notice of the agreement, Obama told a news conference in Warsaw: “Regardless of the circumstances, whatever those circumstances may turn out to be, we still get an American soldier back if he’s held in captivity. Period. Full stop.”

Jun 3, 2014

U.S. senators set new bid to overhaul pricey food aid rules

WASHINGTON, June 3 (Reuters) – Two U.S. lawmakers introduced
legislation on Tuesday to end U.S. restrictions on international
food aid programs, which they said would free up hundreds of
millions of dollars per year and get aid to some 9 million more
hungry people around the world.

U.S. Senators Bob Corker of Tennessee, the top Republican on
the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Democrat Chris Coons
of Delaware, chairman of the Africa subcommittee, introduced the
Food for Peace Reform Act of 2014.

Jun 3, 2014

U.S. Senators set bill seeking overhaul of food aid rules: source

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Two U.S. lawmakers will introduce legislation on Tuesday to end restrictions on international food aid programs, which they say would free up hundreds of millions of dollars per year and get aid to some 9 million more hungry people around the world.

U.S. Senators Bob Corker of Tennessee, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Democrat Chris Coons of Delaware, chairman of the Africa subcommittee, are jointly introducing the “Food for Peace Reform Act of 2014,” according to a copy of the bill obtained by Reuters.

Jun 3, 2014

Obama administration to work with Palestinian unity government

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama’s administration said on Monday it plans to work with and fund the new Palestinian unity government, and Israel immediately voiced its disappointment with the decision also criticized by some U.S. lawmakers.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas swore in a unity government on Monday in a reconciliation deal with Hamas Islamists, who advocate Israel’s destruction.

Jun 2, 2014

Republicans demand hearings in Congress over soldier’s release

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.

Jun 2, 2014

U.S. says to work with, fund Palestinian unity government

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.

Jun 2, 2014

U.S. lawmakers question aid to new Palestinian unity government

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.

    • About Patricia

      "Patricia Zengerle covers foreign policy and national security on Capitol Hill for Reuters. She recently covered the 2012 campaign and the White House and had been an editor in Washington, D.C., an editor in London, and a correspondent in Miami, Pittsburgh and New York. You can follow her on Twitter @ReutersZengerle"
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