WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. and Russian officials agreed on Friday on the need to convene a long-delayed Syrian peace conference in Geneva as soon as possible, but they offered no concrete plan to bring the warring government and rebels to the table.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters after five hours of political and security meetings in Washington that officials from the two countries will meet again by the end of the month to prepare for the Syria talks.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. and Russian officials agreed on Friday on the need to convene a Syrian peace conference in Geneva as soon as possible and will meet again by the end of the month to prepare for the talks, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
Lavrov said the mood of talks in Washington between the top U.S. and Russian diplomatic and defense officials was very positive. The meeting opened after days of recriminations over Moscow’s decision to grant asylum to former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Turmoil in Yemen and the warnings of attacks that prompted the United States to shut diplomatic missions across the Middle East could hinder President Barack Obama’s plans to close Guantanamo Bay prison.
Obama’s plan to restart the repatriation of Yemeni inmates, a large group at the prison, is coming under increasing scrutiny because of the recent focus on the country as a hotbed of al Qaeda activity.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Intercepted communication between al Qaeda leaders was one component of a broader pool of intelligence that prompted a threat alert closing numerous U.S. embassies in the Middle East and Africa, U.S. sources said on Monday.
The New York Times reported that the closure of the embassies was the result of intercepted electronic communications between Ayman al-Zawahri, who replaced Osama bin Laden as head of al Qaeda, and Nasser al-Wuhayshi, the head of Yemen-based affiliate al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – After causing weeks of embarrassment for the U.S. intelligence community, the Edward Snowden saga has now cast a shadow over international efforts to end the Syrian civil war and deal with Iran, and could also undermine White House hopes for a nuclear arms reduction deal.
Russia’s decision on Thursday to grant asylum to Snowden threatens to send already-strained relations between the United States and Russia to the lowest point in years and further complicate efforts to work out geopolitical challenges.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Army has refused to bar 43 individuals or companies from getting U.S. contracts in Afghanistan despite information that they support the Taliban or other enemies of U.S. forces, a government watchdog said on Tuesday.
John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR), said he was concerned by the Army’s refusal to follow his office’s recommendations to prevent alleged supporters of the Taliban, the Haqqani network and al Qaeda from getting or keeping U.S. government contracts.
(Reuters) – U.S. plans to arm Syrian rebels passed one congressional hurdle but may face more when funding runs out in two months, further delaying the flow of weapons, U.S. officials and other sources said.
House and Senate intelligence panels this month agreed to a White House plan to provide arms to rebels fighting to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, despite lawmakers’ reservations about the its chances of success.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama can go ahead with a plan for the United States to arm the struggling Syrian rebels after some congressional concerns were eased, a key Republican lawmaker said on Monday.
“We believe we are in a position that the administration can move forward,” House of Representatives Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers told Reuters.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration has made progress in overcoming lawmakers’ objections to its plans to arm Syrian rebels, but some details remain unresolved, a U.S. official said on Monday.
Members of the Senate Intelligence Committee who questioned the wisdom of arming the insurgents have tentatively agreed the administration can go ahead with its plans, but asked for updates as the covert effort proceeds, a senior administration official told Reuters.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry are lobbying members of Congress to try to break an impasse over White House plans to send arms to Syrian rebels, U.S. officials said on Tuesday.
Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers fear the weapons will end up in the hands of Islamist militants, and will not be enough to tip the balance against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad anyway.