Kerry at Mideast corner of optimism and skepticism
May 23rd, 2013
12:38 PM ET

Kerry at Mideast corner of optimism and skepticism

By Elise Labott, reporting from Jerusalem

If there is one thing Israelis and Palestinians can agree on, it's that John Kerry doesn't lack enthusiasm.

Arriving in Israel on Thursday on his fourth trip since taking office, the secretary of state seems determined that shuttle diplomacy will be enough to coax Israelis and Palestinians into restarting long-stalled talks.

Kerry has made it clear the Israeli-Palestinian issue will be the centerpiece of his tenure as America's top diplomat and hopes solving it will be his legacy.

He has spent more time on this issue than any other, is in almost daily contact with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and speaks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas several times a week.
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Obama speech to focus on drones, Gitmo
May 23rd, 2013
12:30 AM ET

Obama speech to focus on drones, Gitmo

By Jamie Crawford, CNN National Security Producer

From the targeted killing of Americans overseas to the future of the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, President Barack Obama will lay out the framework and legal rationale for his administration's counterterrorism policy in a widely anticipated speech on Thursday.

Administration officials tell CNN that Obama will use the National Defense University speech to continue to call on engagement with Congress on aspects of national security, more transparency in the use of drones, and a review of threats facing the United States.

He will make the case that the al Qaeda terror network has been weakened, but that new dangers have emerged even as the U.S. winds down operations in Afghanistan after more than a decade of war triggered by the 9/11 attacks.

Threats that have emerged come from al Qaeda affiliates, localized extremist groups, and homegrown terrorists.

The address will also build on remarks Obama made in his annual State of the Union address earlier this year when he said his administration works "tirelessly to forge a durable legal and policy framework to guide our counterterrorism efforts."

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Filed under: Al Qaeda • Barack Obama • drones • Gitmo