By Jamie Crawford
An interim agreement that freezes aspects of Iran's nuclear program is not ideal but is necessary to achieve a long-term accord, a senior Obama administration official said Tuesday.
"This is not perfect, but this does freeze and roll back their program in significant ways and give us time on the clock to in fact negotiate that comprehensive agreement," Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
By Alla Eshchenko and Laura Smith-Spark
Syria plans to send a large shipment of toxic agents out of the country this month, Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov told Russian state-run news agency Ria Novosti.
Syria intends to finish the process by March 1, which would be in line with deadlines set by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), he said.
Bogdanov warned against "dramatizing the situation around demilitarization."
The head of the OPCW urged Syria last week to speed up the process of removing the chemicals earmarked for destruction outside its territory.FULL STORY
By Tim Lister
Al Qaeda appears to have had enough of one of its affiliates fighting in Syria: the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. The group has been locked in conflict with other Islamist factions and gained a grim reputation for abuses in parts of Syria it controls, including summary executions and mass killings.
A statement posted on jihadist forums Sunday and purportedly issued by al Qaeda's General Command said "it has no connection with the group" and blamed it for "the enormity of the disaster that afflicted the Jihad in Syria."
The al Qaeda statement, translated by the SITE Intelligence Group, follows more than a month of intense factional fighting between the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant with other Islamist groups in northern and eastern Syria. The Syrian Observatory of Human Rights says it has documented 1,747 people killed in the past four weeks alone but suspects that the real number is substantially higher.
In recent days, the Islamic State has targeted senior figures in other groups. On Sunday, two senior rebel leaders were killed near Aleppo - along with 14 others - when an Islamic State member who was supposedly conducting truce negotiations with them blew himself up, according to the Observatory. The previous day, Islamic State fighters assassinated Abu Hussein al Dik, a senior commander in the powerful Suqour al Sham brigade, near the city of Hama.FULL STORY
By CNN Staff
President Barack Obama had some sharp language on Iran in his State of the Union address, but Tehran saw it mainly as tough talk for a domestic audience.
CNN's Jim Sciutto met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Iran to get his first-hand response to Obama's speech on Tuesday night in which the President said American diplomacy - backed by pressure - has "halted the progress of Iran's nuclear program."
By Jennifer Rizzo
A reduced sentence for two Americans jailed in Iran may be possible, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in an exclusive interview with CNN's Jim Sciutto.
"We have various clemency measures in Iran that can be introduced, happened in the past, can be introduced again in these cases," Zarif said in the interview this week from Davos, Switzerland.
Amir Hekmati, a former U.S. Marine who served in Iraq, was arrested in Iran in August 2011 and held on espionage charges.
By Tom Cohen
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif insisted Wednesday that the Obama administration mischaracterizes concessions by his side in the six-month nuclear deal with Iran, telling CNN in an exclusive interview that "we did not agree to dismantle anything."
Zarif told CNN Chief National Security Correspondent Jim Sciutto that terminology used by the White House to describe the agreement differed from the text agreed to by Iran and the other countries in the talks - the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany.FULL STORY
The aim is ambitious, but the expectations are low.
As top diplomats gathered in Switzerland for international talks aimed at ending Syria's protracted civil war, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the opposing sides in the conflict to seize the opportunity for peace.
"After nearly three painful years of conflict and suffering in Syria, today is a day of fragile but real hope," he said at the start of the conference in the Swiss town of Montreux.
But the obstacles to finding a solution to a conflict that threatens to destabilize the Middle East quickly became apparent at the conference, which was beset by squabbles before it even began.FULL STORY
By Dana Davidsen
Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates is defending his criticism of Vice President Joe Biden's record on national security.
Gates writes in his new book, "Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War," that Biden was "wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades."FULL STORY
By Elise Labott
When Secretary of State John Kerry first took office he talked of changing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's calculus.
Assad "needs to know that he can't shoot his way out of this," Kerry said in March at a Rome meeting with members of the Syrian opposition.
When he and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov first conceived the idea of bringing the regime and the opposition together for peace talks in Geneva, they believed strengthened international support for both the political opposition and rebel forces would leave the Syrian leader ready to negotiate his own ouster.
U.S. policy since then has had the opposite effect.
By Jason Hanna and Evan Perez
The deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, was "likely preventable" based on known security shortfalls and prior warnings that the security situation there was deteriorating, the majority of the Senate Intelligence Committee concluded in a report released on Wednesday.
Separately, the findings also noted what the FBI had told the panel - that 15 people cooperating with its investigation had been killed in Benghazi, undercutting the investigation. It was not clear if the killings were related to the probe.
Moreover, it said that people linked with various al Qaeda-related groups in North Africa and elsewhere participated in the September 11, 2012, attack, but investigators haven't been able to determine whether any one group was in command.FULL STORY