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Jun 22, 2012

Not time to arm Syrians, Pentagon chief says

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Defense Secretary Leon Panetta defended the Obama administration’s decision not to arm the Syrian opposition, saying the country risked being pushed into an all-out civil war if efforts to secure a smooth political transition fail.

“We made a decision not to provide lethal assistance at this point. I know others have made their own decisions,” Panetta said in an interview on Thursday.

Jun 20, 2012

U.S. security chiefs visit Saudi after royal death

JEDDAH (Reuters) – U.S. security chiefs visited Saudi Arabia on Wednesday to convey President Barack Obama’s condolences for the death of Crown Prince Nayef, underscoring the importance of a relationship seen as key in the battle against al Qaeda.

The delegation was led by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and included Federal Bureau of Investigation director Robert Mueller, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security, Counter-terrorism John Brennan and former Central Intelligence Agency director George Tenet.

Jun 13, 2012

Pakistan route cut-off costs U.S. $100 mln a month

WASHINGTON, June 13 (Reuters) – Pakistan’s closure of supply
routes to the Afghan war is costing American taxpayers $100
million a month, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on
Wednesday, as he recommended possibly setting conditions on
future U.S. aid to Islamabad.

Panetta’s decision to disclose what had been a closely
guarded figure at the Pentagon appeared to be another sign of
frustration with Pakistan and will do little to generate
sympathy for that country in Congress, which is wrestling with
ways to scale back the U.S. budget deficit.

Jun 13, 2012

Pentagon chief urges conditions for Pakistan aid

WASHINGTON, June 13 (Reuters) – The United States should
examine setting conditions for aid to Pakistan but not cutting
it off, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Wednesday, as he
disclosed that Islamabad’s closure of supply routes to the
Afghan war cost American taxpayers millions of dollars a month.

Asked during a Senate budget hearing whether he would
recommend halting aid to Pakistan, Panetta said: “I’d be very
careful about just shutting it down.”

Jun 12, 2012

U.S. worried Russia may be sending Syria helicopters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States is worried Russia may be sending Syria attack helicopters and views Russian claims that its arms transfers to Syria are unrelated to the conflict there as “patently untrue,” U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday.

The comments came as the Pentagon found itself on the defensive for doing business with Russian state arms exporter Rosoboronexport, given concerns in Congress about the firm’s role in arming the Syrian regime.

Jun 11, 2012

U.S. pulls negotiators from Pakistan, no supply deal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States is withdrawing its team of negotiators from Pakistan without securing a long-sought deal with Islamabad to allow trucks to again supply NATO troops in neighboring Afghanistan, the Pentagon said on Monday.

The decision is the latest sign of troubled ties with Islamabad and was announced just days after Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the United States was reaching the limits of its patience because of the safe havens Pakistan offered to insurgents.

Jun 1, 2012

U.S. asks Iraq to extradite Hezbollah suspect

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States has formally asked Iraq to extradite a suspected Hezbollah operative accused of killing American troops, a U.S. official told Reuters, amid heightened concerns in Washington that he may go free.

It was not immediately clear when the request was filed and Iraqi officials approached by Reuters denied knowledge of it, casting doubt on whether an extradition was seriously being considered at this point in Baghdad.

May 24, 2012

Bin Laden film got no Special Ops help: U.S. admiral

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. admiral who oversaw the operation to kill Osama bin Laden denied on Thursday that he or his staff helped advise Hollywood film makers shooting a movie about last year’s secret raid to kill the al Qaeda leader.

A conservative legal group this week made public documents which it said showed how the Obama administration arranged special access to top officials for film makers Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal, the director and screenwriter of “The Hurt Locker,” a 2008 film about the Iraq war that won the Academy Award for Best Picture.

May 21, 2012

NATO to hand combat role to Afghans as it seeks way out of war

CHICAGO (Reuters) – NATO will hand over the lead role in combat operations to Afghan forces across the country by mid-2013, alliance leaders said on Sunday as they charted a path out of a war that has lost public support and strained budgets in Western nations.

A NATO summit in Chicago on Monday will formally endorse a U.S.-backed strategy for a gradual exit from Afghanistan, a move aimed at holding together an allied force scrambling to cope with France’s decision to withdraw its troops early.

May 20, 2012

NATO to embrace pivot to Afghanistan support role in 2013

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Western leaders gathering this weekend to define their path out of Afghanistan will announce a pivot in the NATO mission next year, formally putting Afghan soldiers in charge of combat operations across the country, U.S. officials said on Sunday.

The leaders are expected to endorse a U.S. decision – telegraphed by the Pentagon earlier this year – to shift foreign troops to a support role by mid- or late 2013, a U.S. official said on condition of anonymity.

    • 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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