By CNN Political Unit
President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry made explicit the administration's renewed attempts to negotiate a peace deal between Israel and Palestine Saturday as the United States begins to assume a more muscular role in talks.
At the Brookings Institution's annual Saban Forum on Middle East issues and U.S.-Israeli relations, Obama and Kerry each spoke about a budding interim deal that would work towards a two-state solution.FULL STORY
By Elise Labott
The United States and Israel are "absolutely in sync" about the need to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday.
Talk of Iran's nuclear program took center stage in close to nine hours of talks Thursday and Friday between Kerry and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Kerry met with Netanyahu for the first time since the U.S. and five other world powers reached a deal with Iran over its nuclear program.
His talks aimed to convince the Israeli leader to move beyond the "first step" deal and work on a comprehensive agreement that addresses all of Israel's concerns about Iran's program.FULL STORY
By CNN Foreign Affairs Reporter Elise Labott
John Kerry felt a happy hour at a Moldovan winery would serve as a fruitful backdrop for his message, not just to his hosts but to the demonstrators on the streets of Kiev.
This week the secretary of state had planned to visit the Ukrainian capital. But President Viktor Yanukovich's decision not to sign a political and trade agreement with the European Union drew the largest protests in Ukraine since the 2004 Orange Revolution and a violent government in response.
By Elise Labott
The protests in Ukraine against President Viktor Yanukovich's last-minute decision not to sign a political and trade agreement with the European Union are the biggest in the country since the 2004 Orange Revolution that booted Yanukovich, then Prime Minister, from office.
And U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was tough Tuesday in his criticism of the government's use of force against the peaceful demonstrators, saying "violence has no place in a modern European state."
But his decision to skip a visit to Kiev and attend a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe wasn't necessarily a response to the political upheaval and a voice of support for the protesters, nor was it an indictment of the government's heavy-handed methods to combat it.
The snub was, in effect, a U.S. protest of the government's moves to align its trade interests with Moscow by deciding not to join the EU agreement. The so-called Eastern Partnership is designed to forge closer EU ties to Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Azerbaijan and Georgia.
By Elise Labott
NATO warned it may be forced to withdraw all of its troops from Afghanistan by the end of next year if President Hamid Karzai doesn't sign a security agreement with the United States.
Reached last month, the pact lays out the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan after 2014, when the NATO-led force of some 80,000 troops is scheduled to leave.
Although the agreement was endorsed by the Afghan council of tribal leaders, called the Loya Jirga, Karzai said he won't sign it until after elections in April.
Uncertainty over the agreement is causing mounting anxiety among diplomats here, where Afghanistan is dominating talks among NATO ministers, including Secretary of State John Kerry.
To say reactions to the Iranian nuclear deal have been all over the place would be an understatement.
In one corner, ardent supporters, like the White House, touted it as a resolution in which they didn't waver from their core beliefs. Iranian officials boasted the same.
The United Nations and the European Union threw in their weight, saying the compromise is a huge step with tremendous potential.
Then you have Israel, which says the deal is based on global "self-delusion" and could help Iran get closer to having a nuclear bomb. Meanwhile, some U.S. Republicans are skeptical about the Obama administration's true intentions in helping strike the deal.FULL STORY
By CNN's Ashley Killough
Secretary of State John Kerry insisted Sunday that the interim agreement to halt Iran’s nuclear program makes Israel safer – though Israel says the agreement has exactly the opposite effect.
“We believe very strongly that because the Iranian nuclear program is actually set backwards and is actually locked into place in critical places, that that is better for Israel than if you were just continuing to go down the road and they rush towards a nuclear weapon,” Kerry said in an interview that aired Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” – just hours after world powers and Iran reached the historic agreement.
Kerry cautioned that strong verification tactics will be needed in order to hold Iran accountable to the deal.
“When you're dealing with nuclear weapons, it's not an issue of trust,” Kerry said. “Verification is the key.”FULL STORY
By Jim Sciutto and Ben Brumfield, CNN
The diplomatic gridlock between Iran and the West seemed immovable for decades. But on Sunday, diplomats made history when Iran and six world powers came together on an agreement over Iran's nuclear program.
The deal dials back Iran's ability to work toward a nuclear weapon and at the same time loosens the choke hold of international sanctions on Iran's economy.
The two sides now have six months to find out how historic the breakthrough really is. That's the duration of the preliminary agreement hammered out in Geneva, Switzerland, by Iran and the P5+1 - the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany.
"There are lots of things, regrettably, that we still have to work on. Our hope is that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif want to build this different relationship, want to show in clear ways as we go forward that the program is peaceful," U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told CNN's "State of the Union."
By Masoud Popolzai and Ben Brumfield, CNN
A vast majority of 2,500 Afghan elders voted Sunday at a traditional gathering to recommend a joint security agreement with the United States.
Members attending the 4-day-long loya jirga urged President Hamid Karzai to sign it before the end of the year.
Thousands of tribal elders made their way to the capital to join the loya jirga, a grand assembly, to confer on the key issue of whether or not to support the presence in their country of a limited number of U.S. troops beyond next year.
Amid some skepticism, they decided it was a good idea. U.S. Secretary of state John Kerry, who finished hammering out the deal with Karzai the day before the loya jirga began, was hopeful that they would.FULL STORY
By CNN's Jim Sciutto and Greg Botelho
Momentum appears to be building for a breakthrough deal on Iran's nuclear program, with top diplomats flocking to the site of ongoing talks and one Western official saying Friday a deal could be reached "as soon as tonight."
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and British Foreign Secretary William Hague will both be in Geneva on Saturday. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius headed to the Swiss city on Friday night, according to an European Union diplomatic source, and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has left Beijing for Geneva, according to his ministry's website.FULL STORY