By CNN Foreign Affairs Reporter Elise Labott
President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin went to great lengths to portray their phone call Friday as evidence the two leaders were working together to stabilize the situation in Ukraine.
Absent were the accusations they traded the past two months over the future of the former Soviet republic.
The Obama administration continues to dismiss the notion of a new Cold War with Russia. But the louder their protests, the more apparent the chill has become.
It was on display Saturday in widely differing characterizations of a telephone conversation between Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, after news broke that Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych left the capital because of what he described as a "coup."
By Elise Labott and Tom Cohen
President Barack Obama condemned the violence in the Ukraine, saying Wednesday the United States expected the government to show restraint against protesters and warning there would be consequences for excessive action.
Later, the United States said it would won't issue visas for 20 senior members of the Ukrainian government and others responsible for the violent crackdown this week in the capital of Kiev, a senior State Department official told reporters on a conference call.
That development came as the Ukrainian government and the opposition announced a truce to allow for negotiations to restart with the aim at stabilizing the situation, the official said.
In Mexico for a summit with the leaders of Canada and the host country, Obama said that "we're going to be watching closely and we expect the Ukrainian government to show restraint, to not resort to violence in dealing with peaceful protestors."FULL STORY
By Jill Dougherty
Arriving on stage at FNB stadium in Johannesburg to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela, President Barack Obama shook hands with dozens of other world leaders, pausing briefly to grasp the hand of Cuban President Raul Castro.
It was a moment of high symbolism. More than 50 years after the Cuban Revolution, the United States and Cuba still do not have diplomatic relations.
The President has eased some of the economic embargo and travel restrictions that the administration of President George W. Bush strongly enforced, but relations still are tense. Cuba continues to imprison an American citizen, Alan Gross, who was arrested in 2009 on charges of attempting to destabilize the Cuban government.FULL STORY
By Michael Pearson
Please, Mr. President, don't leave me behind.
That's the gist of former U.S. subcontractor Alan Gross' plea to President Barack Obama in a letter on the fourth anniversary of Gross' imprisonment in a small military prison cell in Cuba.
In the letter, Gross - convicted by a Cuban court of "acts against the independence or territorial integrity of the state" - says he spends 23 hours a day in a small cell with two other inmates, is in poor health and is largely cut off from the outside world.
"With the utmost respect, Mr. President, I fear that my government - the very government I was serving when I began this nightmare - has abandoned me," wrote Gross, a former subcontractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development. "Officials in your administration have expressed sympathy and called for my unconditional release, and I very much appreciate that. But it has not brought me home."FULL STORY
By Elise Labott, reporting from the United Nations
So what did President Barack Obama mean when he said he was instructing Secretary of State John Kerry to negotiate a deal with Iran on its nuclear program?
Basically it’s to show that the United States is ready to play ball.
Senior administration officials said it wasn't to indicate a new initiative, as negotiations with Iran are already technically already taking place.
Instead, it was meant to show an increased emphasis and importance the president is putting on improved relations.
(CNN) - As a Russian proposal to strip Syria of its chemical weapons began to take shape, the White House eased off the gas on Tuesday in its drive for congressional approval to strike the Middle Eastern country.
President Barack Obama asked Senate Democrats to delay voting on authorizing military action in Syria while the diplomatic process works itself out, according to senators in a meeting with Obama.
A White House official told CNN that during his meeting on the hill, the president said that his administration would spend the days ahead pursuing this diplomatic option with the Russians and U.S. allies at the United Nations.
The Russian ambassador to the United States said any use of American military force against war-wracked Syria could carry serious consequences and hoped such an outcome would not ruin already tense relations.
While things are difficult between Washington and Moscow, Sergey Kislyak said in Washington that ties have not plunged to Cold War depths – yet.
“They’re not in good shape,” Kislyak said at an appearance in Washington for the Center for the National Interest.
By CNN's Barbara Starr and Jennifer Rizzo
The U.S. military could execute a strike against Syria very quickly, if it's ordered to, according to Pentagon sources.
President Barack Obama is still debating a limited strike after Syrian regime forces allegedly unleashed a brutal chemical attack against civilians and rebel forces earlier this month, killing at least 1,429 people, according to Secretary of State John Kerry.
Before any missiles start flying, the president would issue an "execute" order for operations to begin.
Aaron David Miller, vice president and distinguished scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, says Obama apparently has chosen the middle option on Syria (between doing nothing and the McCain option of pushing for regime change). The result is one of the most widely telegraphed military assaults ever by Washington and a situation in which the president seems to be in a corner, forced to take action or risk being considered ineffective. It’s the least bad option, Miller says.FULL STORY
By Jim Acosta and Brianna Keilar
A senior administration official stressed U.S. President Barack Obama is on an “abbreviated timeline” for making a decision on whether to launch a military strike against Syria over its suspected use of chemical weapons.
“We see this with some urgency,” the official said.
After U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters that chemical weapon use by the Syrian regime was “undeniable,” the senior administration official said the United States no longer requires confirmation from United Nations weapons inspectors.
“This one is a lot easier to figure out,” the official said. “This is really obvious.” FULL POST