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Aug 6, 2013

Despite Snowden, U.S. to hold high-level Russia talks on Friday

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States will hold talks with Russia’s defense and foreign ministers in Washington on Friday despite Moscow’s decision to grant asylum to former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden, U.S. officials said on Tuesday.

The State Department, confirming a report by Reuters, said the talks would go ahead and that Snowden’s case would be among the issues raised when U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel meet their Russian counterparts.

Jul 30, 2013

Afghan forces will need help after NATO mission ends: Pentagon

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Afghan forces will require significant support from the U.S. military and its allies after the NATO combat mission ends next year, according to a new Pentagon report implicitly warning against a “zero option” of total withdrawal.

A senior U.S. defense official said on Tuesday the Pentagon had not developed a plan for total pullout from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, but that failure to reach a deal with Kabul on legal guarantees for U.S. troops could force such a scenario.

Jul 27, 2013

Egypt’s leaders must pull nation back from brink: U.S.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Egypt’s leaders must pull their country “back from the brink,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Saturday, saying Egypt was at a pivotal moment after the killing of dozens of protesters.

Egyptian security forces shot dead dozens of supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohamed Mursi, witnesses said, days after the army chief called for a popular mandate to wipe out “violence and terrorism.”

Jul 24, 2013

Obama halts delivery of F-16s to Egypt amid unrest

WASHINGTON, July 24 (Reuters) – President Barack Obama has
halted the delivery of four F-16 fighter jets to Egypt, U.S.
officials said on Wednesday, in the strongest signal yet of
U.S. impatience with Egypt’s armed forces after its toppling of
President Mohamed Mursi.

The decision appears to underscore deepening U.S. concern
about the course taken by the Arab world’s most populous
country, reeling from violent street clashes following Mursi’s
July 3 overthrow.

Jul 21, 2013

Islamist rebels would gain sway in long Syrian war: U.S. official

By Phil Stewart

ASPEN, Colo. (Reuters) – - Radical Islamist rebels will gain sway over the many disparate factions opposing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad unless they are checked, and the country’s civil war could last years, a top Pentagon intelligence official said on Saturday.

David Shedd, the deputy director of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, did not advocate any form of intervention by the United States or its allies, saying that was up to policymakers.

Jul 20, 2013

Saudi suspect in underwear bomb plots trained others, U.S. says

By Phil Stewart

ASPEN, Colo. (Reuters) – The United States believes the Saudi man suspected of designing underwear bombs for al Qaeda’s Yemeni affiliate has trained a small number of people on his advanced bomb-making techniques, a senior U.S. official said on Friday.

The remarks by John Pistole, who heads the U.S. Transportation Security Administration, were some of the most detailed public comments to date about Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri and the thwarted May 2012 plot by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, to blow up a plane with an underwear bomb.

Jul 19, 2013

U.S. overhauling intelligence access to try to prevent another Snowden

By Phil Stewart

ASPEN, Colo. (Reuters) – The United States is overhauling procedures to tighten access to top-secret intelligence in a bid to prevent another mega-leak like the one carried out by former spy agency contractor Edward Snowden, senior U.S. officials said on Thursday.

The National Security Agency, which Snowden worked for as a Hawaii-based contractor, said it would lead the effort to isolate intelligence and implement a “two-man rule” for downloading – similar to procedures used to safeguard nuclear weapons.

Jul 18, 2013

U.S. overhauling intel access in bid to prevent another Snowden

ASPEN, Colorado (Reuters) – The United States is overhauling procedures to tighten access to top secret intelligence in a bid to prevent another mega-leak like the one carried out by former spy agency contractor Edward Snowden, a top Pentagon official said on Thursday.

Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told a security forum that the government was already moving to better isolate intelligence so that all of it isn’t accessible in one place, and to implement a “two-man rule” – similar to procedures used to safeguard nuclear weapons.

Jul 11, 2013

U.S. says ‘zero option’ on Afghanistan unlikely

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States is unlikely to be forced into a “zero option” of withdrawing all troops from Afghanistan after 2014, but Afghan President Hamid Karzai must understand that a bilateral security pact is necessary for them to stay, U.S. officials said.

The comments come days after the New York Times reported that President Barack Obama is seriously weighing the “zero option” that would end U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan amid tensions with Karzai.

Jul 11, 2013

U.S. still plans to send F-16s to Egypt in coming weeks

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States still plans to go through with the delivery of four F-16 fighter jets to Egypt in the coming weeks, U.S. defense officials told Reuters on Wednesday, even after the Egyptian military’s ouster of President Mohamed Mursi.

The disclosure came as Washington treads a careful line, neither welcoming Mursi’s removal nor denouncing it as a “coup,” saying it needs time to weigh the situation.

    • About Phil

      "Phil Stewart has worked for Reuters since 1998 and reported from more than 30 countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, China and Egypt. Before becoming a Washington D.C.-based military affairs and intelligence reporter, Phil covered terrorism, foreign affairs and the Vatican from Rome from 2004 until mid-2009. He has also previously been based in Colombia and Brazil as a foreign correspondent. Before joining Reuters, Phil covered U.S. politics out of Washington D.C. for States News Service. He earned his BS in international relations from Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service. He speaks English, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian. ..."
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