By CNN's Jill Dougherty
Meeting in Rome with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, Secretary of State John Kerry announced Thursday that the United States would provide an additional $100 million in humanitarian assistance for refugees fleeing the fighting in Syria, bringing the total amount of aid to $510 million.
Kerry also said that he is working to bring all parties together to create a transitional government and that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would not be part of that government.
Jordan, which is being inundated by a wave of Syrian refugees, will receive nearly $43 million, which will support United Nations humanitarian programs in the region.
By Dan Merica
Top Republicans and witnesses ripped the Obama administration's response to last year's deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, calling key executive branch officials unresponsive in the critical hours after the assault and uncooperative in the investigations that followed.
Our goal "is to get answers because their families (of the victims) deserve answers," said California Rep. Darrell Issa, the Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee, which heard from State Department "whistleblowers" at a hearing on Wednesday.
"The administration, however, has not been cooperative and unfortunately our (Democratic House) minority has mostly sat silent," he said.
Issa spoke prior to testimony from Eric Nordstrom, a former regional security officer in Libya; Mark Thompson, the State Department's acting deputy assistant secretary for counterterrorism; and Gregory Hicks, the former deputy chief of mission in Libya.
Follow CNN's live blog of the hearing here.
By Elise Labott
WASHINGTON (CNN) - It was just after 1 a.m. in Istanbul when John Kerry emerged from the Friends of Syria meeting, flanked by Turkey's foreign minister, Qatar's prime minister and Moaz al-Khatib, leader of Syria's political opposition.
The meeting between the Syrian opposition and foreign ministers from 11 of Syria's main backers ran hours past the original deadline. The gathering was intended to get the opposition and international community on the same page about the pace and scope of aid, but it devolved into an extended argument about what one diplomat called "competing agendas" among the supporters.
Kerry took the reins in negotiating the communique, line by line, not letting anyone leave the room until it was finished. In the statement, the group agreed to channel all military assistance through the military council of the U.S.-backed Syrian National Coalition, a significant stab in curbing the escalating influence of al Qaeda-linked groups that have joined the effort to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Kerry also pushed the opposition to make strong and verifiable commitments to reject extremism and adhere to pluralism and human rights.
After taking questions from the press, Kerry went back into a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and al-Khatib, returning to his hotel well past 3 a.m.
Read the full story on cnn.com/politics.
By CNN's Mary Grace Lucas
A NATO alliance where member nations are hamstrung by political and economic difficulties may be a militarily weakened one, former Secy. of State Hillary Clinton warned Wednesday night.
"NATO is turning into a two-tiered alliance with shrinking percentage of members willing – and able – to pay the price and bear the burdens of common defense," Clinton said. "Even in these difficult economic times, we cannot afford to let the greatest alliance in history slide into military irrelevance."
Clinton was speaking at an annual Atlantic Council awards dinner in Washington where both she and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen were honored with Distinguished Leadership awards.
Clinton praised Rasmussen roundly for his work. But she didn’t shy away from the idea that NATO nations needed to think ahead about a more evenly-shared responsibility when it comes to security and readiness.
By Pam Benson and Chris Lawrence
Despite the uproar over a disclosure this week of Pentagon intelligence concluding North Korea may be able to deliver a nuclear weapon on a ballistic missile, it's not the first time the Defense Intelligence Agency has suggested Pyongyang had that capability.
Since 2005, two former DIA chiefs have raised the possibility during congressional testimony.
At a Senate Armed Service Committee hearing in April 2005, then-DIA director Vice Admiral Lowell Jacoby acknowledged the possibility in response to a question about whether North Korea had the capability to put a nuclear device on a missile.
"The assessment is that they have the capability to do that," Jacoby said.
By Elise Labott
Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to Israel and Turkey this weekend to try to jumpstart the long-stalled Mideast peace process and build on the two nations' efforts to repair ties, U.S. and Turkish officials said Wednesday.
Kerry moved up his Monday departure for London and then South Korea, China and Japan in order to capitalize on the reconciliation President Barack Obama brokered between Turkey and Israel during his visit to the region last month, according to the officials, who spoke on anonymity because the trip had not been announced. He will also discuss the crisis in Syria.
Obama scored a diplomatic success during his visit to Israel last month when he persuaded Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to apologize to Turkey for a 2010 commando raid that killed nine activists on a Turkish vessel in a Gaza-bound flotilla.
The apology, long sought by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, eased strained feelings between the two vital U.S. allies in the Middle East.
By Kevin Liptak
Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday in Baghdad that he pressed Iraq's leaders to take steps prohibiting Iranian planes from delivering arms to Syria's besieged government, which is battling rebels backed by financial support from the American government.
Iranian planes must fly through Iraq's airspace in order to reach Syria with deliveries of weapons and supplies. The flights are occurring almost daily, according to a senior State Department official accompanying Kerry on his stop in Baghdad.
"Anything that supports President Assad is problematic," Kerry told reporters, referring to Syria's leader. "And I made it very clear to the prime minister that the overflights from Iran are, in fact, helping to sustain President Assad and his regime."
Kerry's previously unannounced trip to Iraq came after he joined President Barack Obama on a trip to Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan. This week marked the ten-year anniversary of the beginning of the U.S.-led war in Iraq, and the first time since 2009 that a U.S. secretary of state has visited the country. Obama last went to Iraq in April 2009.
By Jill Dougherty and Joe Sterling
Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking to reporters in Egypt on Saturday, said "there must be a willingness on all sides" in Egypt to make "meaningful compromises on the issues that matter most to all of the Egyptian people."
And, Kerry said, Egyptians must stay focused on economic and political opportunities to succeed in forging a successful democracy. The United States wants to help all it can but not interfere in Egypt's affairs.
"We come here as friends," Kerry said - not as proponents of a particular group, person or ideology.
By Jill Dougherty, traveling with Secretary of State John Kerry
In Ankara, Turkey, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry came face to face with a tragedy that scarred his first day in office: the death of a security guard at the U.S. Embassy in the capital city.
Mustafa Akarsu died in a suicide bombing at the gates to the embassy he had guarded for 20 years. On Friday, his wife, two children and their uncle sat in the sunshine on the lawn of the embassy as Kerry expressed condolences on behalf of President Barack Obama and the American people.
"That was my first day as secretary of state," he said. "When I raised my hand to take the oath of office, this tragedy was immediately on my mind and in my heart, and I have carried the memory of that courage in every embassy I have walked into since, and I will in the days ahead."
Kerry presented to the family the American flag that flew over the embassy the day Akarsu died.
When the terrorist came to the gate, he said, "Mustafa didn't hesitate for a moment. He and his fellow guards acted heroically, saving lives, with quickness and with bravery."
Recalling other guards who have been killed at other embassies, Kerry said it is a "dangerous world," but embassy staff members do "indispensable work." FULL POST
By Jamie Crawford
Secretary of State John Kerry hit back on Monday at the notion the United States is not doing enough to support the Syrian opposition.
"We are determined that the Syrian opposition is not going to be dangling in the wind wondering where the support is or if it is coming, and we are determined to change the calculation on the ground for President (Bashar al-Assad)," Kerrry said in London.
Making his first foreign trip as America's top diplomat, Kerry appeared at a news conference with British Foreign Secretary William Hague.
Kerry said the United States and its allies are pursuing a political resolution to the civil war that assures a broad cross section of Syrian society is represented in a new democratic government.