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May 21, 2014

Kerry to discuss Venezuelan crisis on Mexico visit: U.S. official

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.

May 15, 2014

U.S. criticizes Nigeria over kidnapping response

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.

May 8, 2014

Bill ending NSA bulk data collection moving quickly in U.S. House

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.”

May 8, 2014

U.S. lawmakers want Venezuela sanctions; administration says not now

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.

May 8, 2014

Bill ending NSA data collection continues swift path through U.S. Congress

WASHINGTON, May 8 (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, advancing
the first legislative effort at surveillance reform since former
contractor Edward Snowden revealed the program a year ago.

The House of Representatives Intelligence committee voted
unanimously by voice vote for the “USA Freedom Act,” which would
end the National Security Agency’s practice of gathering
information on calls made by millions of Americans and storing
them for at least five years.

Apr 29, 2014

Senior U.S. lawmaker blocks aid for Egyptian military

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate subcommittee that oversees foreign aid, said on Tuesday he would not approve sending funds to the Egyptian military, denouncing a “sham trial” in which a court sentenced 683 people to death.

“I’m not prepared to sign off on the delivery of additional aid for the Egyptian military,” the Vermont Democrat said in a speech on the Senate floor, explaining why he would hold up the $650 million. “I’m not prepared to do that until we see convincing evidence the government is committed to the rule of law.”

Apr 28, 2014

U.S. lawmakers say latest Russia sanctions too mild, to seek more

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Senior U.S. Republican lawmakers said on Monday the latest sanctions imposed on Russian individuals and companies are too mild to deter Moscow from further action in Ukraine and promised to offer legislation as soon as this week to pressure the Obama administration to take stronger action.

Tennessee Senator Bob Corker, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who earlier this month visited Ukraine and neighbouring countries, called the new sanctions “just a slap on the wrist,” and said it was time for measures that would affect the Russian economy.

Apr 28, 2014

U.S. lawmakers say latest Russia sanctions too mild, want more

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Senior U.S. Republican lawmakers said on Monday the latest sanctions imposed on Russian individuals and companies are too mild to deter Moscow from further action in Ukraine and promised legislation to pressure the Obama administration to take stronger action.

Tennessee Senator Bob Corker, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called the new sanctions “just a slap on the wrist.”

Apr 27, 2014

Analysis – For Washington, Palestinian pact not the end of Middle East peace hopes

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The unity pact between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the militant group Hamas dealt a sharp punch to U.S.-driven peace negotiations with Israel, but the Americans insisted it was not a fatal blow to the struggling talks.

Washington was stunned by the deal announced on Wednesday between Fatah, the faction that leads the West Bank, and Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip and is viewed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union and Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately suspended participation in the peace process brokered by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

Apr 27, 2014

For Washington, Palestinian pact not the end of Middle East peace hopes

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The unity pact between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the militant group Hamas dealt a sharp punch to U.S.-driven peace negotiations with Israel, but the Americans insisted it was not a fatal blow to the struggling talks.

Washington was stunned by the deal announced on Wednesday between Fatah, the faction that leads the West Bank, and Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip and is viewed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union and Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately suspended participation in the peace process brokered by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

    • 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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