As he leaves, Panetta says sequester is biggest concern
February 3rd, 2013
04:54 PM ET

As he leaves, Panetta says sequester is biggest concern

By: CNN's Ashley Killough

Outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Sunday his "biggest concern" right now is the uncertainty over budget issues on Capitol Hill.

"If the sequester is allowed to go into effect, I think it could seriously impact on the readiness in the United States," he said on CNN's "State of the Union." "And that's a serious issue."

The U.S. military could face the start of $500 billion in budget cuts in about a month if Congress fails to come up with a budget plan that avoids the so-called sequester, a serious of automatic, across-the-board spending cuts spread out over the next decade.

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Kerry gets started at State, speaks to Middle East leaders
February 3rd, 2013
04:48 PM ET

Kerry gets started at State, speaks to Middle East leaders

By: CNN Political Unit

Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with leaders from Israel and the Palestinian Authority, among others, during his first weekend on the job, according to a readout released by the State Department on Sunday.

The former senator from Massachusetts spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the country's recent elections and the Middle East peace process. He also talked to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas about Israeli-Palestinian relations and vowed to continue efforts with Congress to send funds to the authority.

The conversations came one day after Kerry spoke with Israeli President Shimon Peres, whom he has known since he was a freshman senator, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a readout on Saturday.

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Filed under: Kerry • Middle East • Secretary of State