By Elise Labott
BRUSSELS (CNN) - When Secretary of State John Kerry meets Tuesday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on the sidelines of NATO meetings, he will have a full agenda, starting with the crisis in Syria, disarmament talks with Iran and nuclear saber rattling by North Korea.
There also will be the issue of missile defense and ongoing negotiations between Moscow and Washington to make drastic cuts in their respective nuclear arsenals.
But the Chechen roots of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects will loom large.
While Russia could be helpful in tracing possible motivation of the alleged attackers, brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, as well as any possible connection to terrorist groups, the Obama administration wants to make sure it does not upset an already fragile relationship.
By Jill Dougherty
The president's top diplomat said Friday he wasn't looking "backwards" at the White House quashing of a proposal last summer to arm the Syrian rebels, but was instead looking at what the United States will do regarding helping the opposition.
Last summer President Barack Obama's national security team, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, CIA Director David Petraeus, outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey, backed a proposal to provide weapons to Syrian rebels but, U.S. officials told CNN on Thursday, the White House blocked the idea.
That rift was unexpectedly revealed Thursday in testimony on Capitol Hill. Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, asked Panetta and Dempsey: "Did you support the recommendation by Secretary of State - then-Secretary of State Clinton and then-head of CIA General Petraeus that we provide weapons to the resistance in Syria? Do you support that?
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.
By Joe Sterling, Jessica Yellin and Holly Yan
Sen. John Kerry, the president's nominee for secretary of state, put America's anxiety over Iran front and center during his confirmation hearing, saying the "questions surrounding Iran's nuclear program" must be resolved.
"The president has made it definitive," Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Thursday during what is expected to be an easy confirmation process.
"We will do what we must do to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, and I repeat here today, our policy is not containment. It is prevention, and the clock is ticking on our efforts to secure responsible compliance."FULL STORY
By Jessica Yellin and Holly Yan
Nine years after his presidential bid ended in defeat, John Kerry's political career might take a major turn Thursday during his hearing to become the next secretary of state.
The longtime senator from Massachusetts could sail to an easy confirmation, as politicians from both parties expressed optimism he would win approval.
"Over these many years, John's earned the respect and confidence of leaders around the world. He is not going to need a lot of on-the-job-training," President Barack Obama said when he nominated Kerry last month.
"I think it is fair to say that few individuals know as many presidents and prime ministers or grasp our foreign policies as firmly as John Kerry, and this makes him a perfect choice to guide American diplomacy in the years ahead."
Kerry is noted for having the experience, gravitas and relationship-building skills that could help him succeed Hillary Clinton, the outgoing top U.S. diplomat.FULL STORY
President Barack Obama on Friday nominated Sen. John Kerry, the former presidential candidate who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to be the next secretary of state.
The senior senator from Massachusetts is noted for the experience, gravitas and relationship-building skills that could help him succeed Hillary Clinton, the outgoing top U.S. diplomat.
Kerry has traveled the globe on behalf of the Obama administration to mend frayed relationships. Most notably, he traveled to Pakistan after a series of incidents, including the raid that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, that had set relations back.
He has support from Republicans as well as Democrats. The nomination will be sent to the Senate for confirmation.
From CNN’s Elise Labott and Jill Dougherty
Sen. John Kerry, who sources say has been tapped by President Barack Obama to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, will come to the post with a full plate of foreign policy crises, from the civil war in Syria, to the nuclear antics of North Korea, to a looming showdown with Iran over its nuclear program.
Anybody who follows Clinton would have some pretty big shoes to fill. Clinton was not just the most popular member of the president’s Cabinet for the past four years, she had celebrity status and respect almost everywhere she went around the world.
But as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for almost 30 years, the past four as chairman, Kerry himself is a highly respected figure on the world stage. While Obama is not close to a lot of world leaders, Kerry has deep relationships with many heads of state that he can draw on as the nation’s top diplomat. Sources close to Kerry note that the increasing partisanship on Capitol Hill has disillusioned Kerry and he is ready to leave the Senate.
He is no stranger to diplomacy and has often traveled overseas on behalf of the Obama administration as a diplomatic troubleshooter and to mend frayed relationships. Kerry persuaded Afghan President Hamid Karzai to agree to an election runoff in 2009 and has traveled Pakistan after a series of incidents, including the raid that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
“There are very few people with greater experience over a longer period of time,” notes Nicholas Burns, a former career ambassador who has served every secretary of state since Warren Christopher, and was most recently undersecretary for political affairs under Condoleezza Rice.“He would be a very, very impressive choice."
“You really need someone who is a renaissance person with a tremendous range of skill, both political and substantive, with a deep reservoir of knowledge” Burns said in an interview. “You need someone who can drill several layers deep on foreign policy issues.” FULL POST
By Jamie Crawford
It's a favorite game in Washington to weigh the odds of each potential nominee to a president's cabinet and that game is in full swing - especially in trying to anticipate President Barack Obama's choice for replacing Hillary Clinton as secretary of state.
With speculation mounting that President Obama may soon announce his nominee, two very well-known names - Sen. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, and Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice - remain the two top possibilities. Each comes with strengths but with baggage as well.
Rice's name has been floated in recent weeks as being Obama's preferred candidate for the top diplomatic post.
Twice in recent weeks the president has voiced support for her as she has been at the receiving end of a barrage of criticism over how she presented the administration's explanation for the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya. Her appearance on Sunday talk shows the weekend after the attack that killed four Americans including the U.S. ambassador has led to questions as to whether she is too controversial now to be chosen by the president.
By Larry Shaughnessy
The officer who oversaw security at the military base where Army private Bradley Manning was held for a time said on Wednesday he was not pressured by superiors to keep the accused WikiLeaker in a high-level lockup and under constant watch.
Marine Col. Robert Oltman said his decision to maintain maximum-security status for Manning during his eight-month confinement in Quantico in Virginia was borne out of caution.
Oltman said at a pre-trial hearing at Fort Meade, Maryland, for Manning that he recognized the case was high profile but told subordinates at the Marine base to "do what's right" and not "worry about somebody looking over your shoulder."
Manning's lawyers are trying to get the case thrown out - or at least any sentence reduced, if he's convicted - by claiming he was mistreated at the Quantico brig from July 2010 until he was moved to the military prison at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, in April 2011.
Kerry adamant White House not involved in intelligence leaks
By Ted Barrett
The Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said he is “really upset” about recent leaks of classified information because it “endangers our long-term security” and it “begs retaliation.” But Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts was adamant that no one at the White House or in Democratic politics was involved in the leaks.
“I know that people at the White House were not involved,” he said.
Asked about suggestions from Sen. John McCain of Arizona and other Republicans that the leaks came from someone trying to boost the president’s political standing, Kerry said they are wrong. FULL POST