January 22nd, 2013
04:55 PM ET

Clinton prepping for Benghazi grilling

By Jake Tapper, Elise Labott and Ted Barrett

Republican members of Congress plan a host of questions for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her long-awaited testimony on Wednesday about the deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.

Questions are expected to range from a security vacuum in Northern Africa to new cables suggesting that Ambassador Christopher Stevens, who was killed in the September 11 assault, once proposed moving the compound to a more secure location adjacent the CIA Annex, sources tell CNN.

Congressional staffers have been shown new State Department e-mails and cables indicating that in November 2011, Stevens, concerned about the safety of the compound in Benghazi, proposed two options to the State Department, sources tell CNN.  The first involved moving the compound back into a hotel. The second would move the compound to an unoccupied villa adjacent the CIA annex.  CIA officials agreed with U.S. diplomatic personnel on the ground that the latter option would be safer. But the State Department rejected the idea.

The presence on the House Foreign Relations Committee of several new members and on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee of at least two possible GOP presidential hopefuls – Marco Rubio of Florida and Rand Paul of Kentucky – has some State Department officials anticipating aggressive questions about whether the presence of Islamic extremists in Mali and Algeria were in any way related to past decisions by the Obama administration to keep U.S. combat troops out of Libya.

Most questions are expected to re-visit well-worn lines of inquiry about why requests by officials on the ground in Libya for additional security were not heeded, and faulty talking points about whether an anti-Islam video played a role in the attack that also killed three other Americans.

Other questions could involve the State Department response to the terrorist bombing of the U.S. compound in Benghazi that had occurred the previous June.

Lawmakers may also be interested in Clinton's precise whereabouts on the night of the September attack, her personal involvement in administration actions that night as well as efforts to locate Stevens, who went missing before he died.

Clinton will testify for 90 minutes before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the morning and 90 minutes before the House Foreign Affairs Committee in the afternoon.

FULL POST


Filed under: Benghazi • Clinton • Congress • Libya • State Department
Efforts to mend U.S.-Pakistani relationship continue
December 2nd, 2012
10:33 PM ET

Efforts to mend U.S.-Pakistani relationship continue

Editor's note: CNN's Jill Dougherty is traveling with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Europe. Dougherty filed this report from Prague.

By Jill Dougherty

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will meet with Pakistan's foreign minister and the army chief of staff Monday on the sidelines of a NATO summit to review where U.S.-Pakistani relations stand, a senior State Department official said.

Clinton's scheduled meeting in Brussels with Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani is latest in a series of talks this year aimed at repairing the bilateral relationship that was badly strained in 2011 following a raid by U.S. commandos on Osama bin Laden's hideout in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

"Obviously, if you sort of step back a little bit, for us, 2011 was as hard a year in U.S.-Pakistan relations as you can imagine," the official said.

"And so we tried in 2012 to sort of get back into some sensible business with them. Our philosophy has been that it ought to be possible between Pakistan and the United States to systematically identify our shared interests and act on them jointly."

This year, the United States has tried to improve relations between the two countries by focusing on counterterrorism cooperation, Afghanistan's future and improving market access and trade - not aid - with a bilateral investment treaty, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity as a matter of practice.

FULL POST

October 15th, 2012
07:47 PM ET

Clinton: I’m responsible for diplomats’ security

From Elise Labott, reporting from Lima, Peru

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday tried to douse a political firestorm around the deadly assault on a U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya, saying she is responsible for the security of American diplomatic outposts.

"I take responsibility" for the protection of U.S. diplomats, Clinton said during a visit to Peru. But she said an investigation now under way will ultimately determine what happened in the attack that left four Americans dead.

The attack on the night of September 11 killed Chris Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, and three other Americans at the American consulate in Benghazi.

The Obama administration has been heavily criticized after Vice President Joe Biden said during last week's vice presidential debate that the White House did not know of requests to enhance security at Benghazi, contradicting testimony by State Department employees that requests had been made and rejected. After the debate, the White House said the vice president did not know of the requests because they were handled, as is the practice, by the State Department.
FULL POST

October 2nd, 2012
03:48 PM ET

House GOP wants State Dept. to answer for Libya security

By Deirdre Walsh and Gregory Wallace

The State Department's rejection of "repeated requests for increased security in Benghazi" came amid "a clear pattern of security threats" in the five months leading up to the attack on a U.S. diplomatic post in Libya, a Thursday letter from House Republicans obtained by CNN reads.

"The attack that claimed the Ambassador's life was the latest in a long line of attacks on Western diplomats and officials in Libya in the months leading up to September 11, 2012," the letter from Reps. Darrell Issa and Jason Chaffetz to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reads.

The Republicans demanded answers to several questions and testimony at a hearing next Wednesday – the only hearing on any matter scheduled so far in the 35 days remaining until Election Day.
FULL POST

At APEC Russia and the U.S. look east
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attends the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Russia's far eastern port city Vladivostok on September 8, 2012. Asia-Pacific leaders meet for annual trade talks, hoping to present a united front amid a gloomy world economy but with team spirit frayed by worsening territorial rows.
September 8th, 2012
08:21 AM ET

At APEC Russia and the U.S. look east

From CNN Foreign Affairs Correspondent Jill Dougherty

Vladivostok, the site of this year’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, is more than 5,000 miles from Moscow, seven times zones to the east. The word means “Ruler of the East” and the Russian government wants to make good on the promise of that name.

“When the decision was made that we would hold the chairmanship several years ago we thought that it would give a general boost to the whole region of Far East Russia,” says Mikhail Kalugin, Acting Head of Economic Section at the Russian Embassy in Washington.
FULL POST

September 6th, 2012
02:35 PM ET

Clinton: Russia, China on board with the U.S.

Russia and China back the U.S. pressure on Iran, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told CNN's Jessica Yellin in an exclusive interview.

"With respect to these very stringent sanctions, Russia and China have been cooperating," Clinton said.


Filed under: China • Clinton • Russia • State Department
Clinton seeks agreement that Syria needs transition to attend meeting
June 27th, 2012
12:38 AM ET

Clinton seeks agreement that Syria needs transition to attend meeting

By Jill Dougherty, reporting from onboard Secretary Clinton's plane

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may attend an international meeting on Syria proposed by Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan, but only if the participants agree that there must be a political transition in the country, an official said Tuesday.

Russia has opposed the idea that other countries dictate a political transition, insisting it is a decision for the Syrians themselves.

Clinton called Annan from her plane en route to a three-nation tour of Finland, Latvia and Russia. The special envoy is continuing his consultations, a senior State Department official told reporters aboard the plane.

FULL POST

June 12th, 2012
06:48 PM ET

U.S. says Russian attack helicopters on way to Syria

By Pam Benson

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accused Russia of sending attack helicopters to Syria.

At a Washington think tank on Tuesday, Clinton said, "We are concerned about the latest information we have that there are attack helicopters on the way from Russia to Syria, which will escalate the conflict quite dramatically."

Clinton said the United States has repeatedly asked Russia to stop arms shipments to President Bashar al-Assad's regime, but Russia has said anything it is sending is not being used against the public unrest. "That's patently untrue," Clinton said before making the accusation about the helicopter shipments.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Arab Spring • Army • Assad • Clinton • Congress • Diplomacy • Intelligence • Middle East • Military • Pentagon • State Department • Syria
More countries reduce Iran oil purchases ahead of US sanctions
June 11th, 2012
06:54 PM ET

More countries reduce Iran oil purchases ahead of US sanctions

By Pam Benson

An additional six countries and Taiwan have significantly reduced their imports of Iranian crude oil and will not face tough sanctions from the United States, according to a statement released Monday by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

India, Malaysia, South Korea, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Taiwan now join 11 other countries that have met requirements set by U.S. law to reduce oil purchases from Iran to avoid a cutoff in access to the U.S. financial system.

Japan and 10 countries from the European Union secured waivers from U.S. sanctions in March.

"By reducing Iran's oil sales, we are sending a decisive message to Iran's leaders: until they take concrete actions to satisfy the concerns of the international community, they will continue to face increasing isolation and pressure," Clinton said in a statement.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Clinton • economy • Energy • Europe • IAEA • IAEA • Iran • Nuclear • State Department
U.S., Russia grapple for common ground on Syria transition
June 6th, 2012
04:07 PM ET

U.S., Russia grapple for common ground on Syria transition

By Jill Dougherty and Tim Lister

It's almost a throwback to the Cold War: a toxic mixture of distrust, weapons shipments and chess moves to preserve spheres of influence. But that's how Russia and the United States have been maneuvering over Syria.

Moscow's latest gambit is to propose a regional solution that hinges on Iran and Turkey helping implement the six-point peace plan developed by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.  The timing of the initiative is no accident.  It was announced by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Beijing just as the U.S.-led Friends of Syria group gathered in Washington to plan further steps to isolate and ultimately remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Turkey for an informal gathering in Turkey of the so-called "Friends of Syria."

The proposal is similar to one the Washington Post reports Annan will propose this week to the United Nations Security Council, which could include bringing Iran to the table. FULL POST

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