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Sep 18, 2012

Analysis: NATO pullback heightens doubts about Afghan strategy

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – NATO’s decision to scale back joint operations with Afghan forces may protect the lives of Western troops increasingly targeted by “insider attacks,” but it raises troubling new questions about President Barack Obama’s strategy to stabilize Afghanistan.

After ramping up Afghan security forces at a breakneck rate to allow for a drawdown of Western troops, NATO is coming to grips with a rash of deadly assaults by Afghan recruits who turn their guns on Western allies. Muslim rage over a film insulting the Prophet Mohammad has further stoked the risk.

Sep 12, 2012

Smoke, confusion and a missing ambassador in Libya attack

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Security personnel were separated from the U.S. ambassador to Libya during the attack in which he was killed, U.S. officials said on Wednesday, describing a chaotic scene of smoke, gunfire and confusion as the American consulate in Benghazi came under assault.

The officials said the attack began at roughly 10 p.m. local time on Tuesday, with U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, information technology specialist Sean Smith and one security officer trapped under fire in the burning consulate building.

Sep 12, 2012

Top US military officer calls pastor over anti-Islam film

WASHINGTON, Sept 12 (Reuters) – General Martin Dempsey, the
chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, called a Florida
pastor on Wednesday and asked him to withdraw his support for a
film whose portrayal of the Prophet Mohammad has been linked to
violent protests – including one that ended with the death of
America’s envoy to Libya.

“In the brief call, Gen. Dempsey expressed his concerns over
the nature of the film, the tensions it will inflame and the
violence it will cause,” Dempsey’s spokesman, Colonel Dave
Lapan, told Reuters.

Sep 12, 2012

Analysis: Obama, Netanyahu both find themselves in a tight spot

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu appear to have landed in a place neither wanted to be: squabbling about Iran, in public, ahead of a U.S. presidential election.

For the Democratic U.S. president, the dispute risks alienating supporters of Israel in a campaign in which Republican nominee Mitt Romney is eager to drive a wedge between Obama and Jewish voters, and to portray the president as weak.

Sep 7, 2012

U.S. designates Haqqani network a terrorist group

WASHINGTON, Sept 7 (Reuters) – The United States said on
Friday it is designating the Pakistan-based Haqqani network a
terrorist organization, triggering sanctions against a group
American officials blame for high-profile attacks in
Afghanistan, and which they say has ties to the Pakistani state.

The decision to blacklist the Haqqani network, announced by
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during a trip to Russia,
could heighten tensions between Washington and Islamabad and
have far-reaching implications for any reconciliation process in
Afghanistan.

Aug 1, 2012

Israel to US: Time running out in Iran nuclear dispute

JERUSALEM, Aug 1 (Reuters) – Israel warned visiting U.S.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Wednesday that time was
running out for a peaceful settlement to the nuclear dispute
with Iran, saying sanctions and tough talk over possible
military action were failing to sway Tehran.

Speculation is rampant over whether Israel will make a
military strike against Iran to halt a nuclear programme that
the West suspects is aimed at building an atomic bomb but which
Tehran says is entirely peaceful.

Aug 1, 2012

Israel tells U.S. time is running out in Iran nuclear dispute

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel told visiting U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Wednesday that time was running out for a peaceful settlement to the nuclear dispute with Iran because sanctions and tough talk over possible military action were failing to sway Tehran.

Speculation is rampant over whether Israel will make a military strike against Iran to halt a nuclear program that the West suspects is aimed at building an atomic bomb but which Tehran says is entirely peaceful.

Jul 31, 2012

Panetta praises Egypt leader for democracy resolve

CAIRO, July 31 (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Leon
Panetta said on Tuesday he was convinced Egypt’s new Islamist
president was committed to democratic reform, promising that
Washington would continue to provide the country’s army with
significant financial aid.

Speaking after meeting Mohamed Mursi, the president, in
Cairo for the first time as well as Field Marshal Hussein
Tantawi, Egypt’s top general, Panetta said he had used his
meeting with Mursi to discuss issues such as border security and
the threat from violent extremism.

Jul 31, 2012

No Iran attack plans to be discussed with Israel – Panetta

CAIRO (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta denied media reports on Tuesday that he would discuss possible military attack plans against Iran during a brief visit to Israel.

Speaking at a press conference in Cairo shortly before departing for Israel, Panetta said he would be talking about “various contingencies”, but said specific military plans would not be put forward.

Jul 31, 2012

Panetta: no Iran attack plans to be discussed with Israel

CAIRO (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta denied media reports on Tuesday that he would discuss possible military attack plans against Iran during a brief visit to Israel.

Speaking at a press conference in Cairo shortly before departing for Israel, Panetta said he would be talking about “various contingencies”, but said specific military plans would not be put forward.

    • 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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