Is Washington joining 'bidding war' with Moscow over Eastern Europe?
December 4th, 2013
09:42 PM ET

Is Washington joining 'bidding war' with Moscow over Eastern Europe?

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.

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Is Washington joining 'bidding war' with Moscow over Eastern Europe?
A man serves soup to anti-government protesters in Independence Square on December 4, 2013 in Kiev, Ukraine.
December 4th, 2013
09:14 AM ET

Is Washington joining 'bidding war' with Moscow over Eastern Europe?

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.
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Uncertainty over security clouds NATO talks on Afghanistan
Secretary of State John Kerry speaks with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, prior to the NATO Foreign Affairs Ministers meeting held at the organisation's headquarters in Brussels, on December 3, 2013.
December 3rd, 2013
01:02 PM ET

Uncertainty over security clouds NATO talks on Afghanistan

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.
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Iran nuclear deal: One agreement, wildly different reactions
November 24th, 2013
10:35 PM ET

Iran nuclear deal: One agreement, wildly different reactions

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.

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Filed under: Iran • Sec. State John Kerry
November 24th, 2013
10:28 AM ET

Kerry: Israel is safer under new deal

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.”

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Filed under: Iran • Nuclear • Sec. State John Kerry
November 24th, 2013
09:58 AM ET

3-decade gridlock broken: The nuclear deal with Iran in Geneva

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."

November 24th, 2013
09:03 AM ET

Loya jirga approves U.S.-Afghan security deal; asks Karzai to sign

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.

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Western official: Iran nuclear deal may be imminent
November 22nd, 2013
07:08 PM ET

Western official: Iran nuclear deal may be imminent

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.

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Kerry to join other top diplomats for Iran nuclear talks
November 22nd, 2013
03:46 PM ET

Kerry to join other top diplomats for Iran nuclear talks

By CNN Chief National Security Correspondent Jim Sciutto

In a possible sign of a breakthrough, several top diplomats - including those from the United States, Russia, the European Union and Iran - met in or headed to Geneva on Friday for talks on Tehran's nuclear program.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that Secretary of State John Kerry would depart for the Swiss city "later today with the goal of continuing to help narrow the differences and move closer to an agreement." The American diplomat is expected to land there around 7:45 a.m. Saturday (1:45 a.m. ET), according to a Western official.

 

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U.S. officials reject 'abhorrent' comments by Iranian leader
A handout picture released by the official website of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, shows him delivering a speech during a gathering of Basij in Tehran on November 20, 2013.
November 21st, 2013
04:17 PM ET

U.S. officials reject 'abhorrent' comments by Iranian leader

By Jamie Crawford

They may have been directed to a domestic audience, but some offensive remarks from Iran's supreme leader drew heated responses from senior officials in the Obama administration.

At issue were remarks by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to a gathering of senior military officials in Tehran earlier this week in which he said Israeli officials "cannot be even called humans," and referred to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as "the rabid dog of the region."

"Well, obviously we disagree with it profoundly," Secretary of State John Kerry said in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday.

"It's inflammatory and it's unnecessary, and I think at this moment, when we are trying to negotiate and figure out what can and can't be achieved, the last thing we need are names back and forth," Kerry said.
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Filed under: Iran • Khamenei • Sec. State John Kerry
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