By Jill Dougherty
It’s a short stop – just four hours – on a trip that will take Secretary of State John Kerry to a NATO meeting in Belgium, to Israel and to Ramallah in the West Bank. But his visit to Chisinau, capital of Moldova, is significant.
The Eastern European nation, bordered on the east by Ukraine, stuck to its diplomatic guns late last month and, along with Georgia, signed a key economic and political agreement with the European Union.
That agreement, called the “Eastern Partnership,” is designed to forge closer E.U. ties with Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Azerbaijan, and Georgia.
By Paul Cruickshank
Intelligence committee leaders in Congress warn that al Qaeda's network has strengthened over the past two years, creating new concern over the terrorist threat to the U.S. homeland.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, and Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Michigan, said on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday that the United States was no safer today than in 2011, despite the death of Osama bin Laden and the removal of senior al Qaeda operatives in drone strikes.
Their warning reflects growing concern among Western intelligence agencies about al Qaeda's growing strength in the Arab world.
While al Qaeda and groups that link to it have suffered setbacks in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region, Somalia, Mali and other "Jihadist fronts," al Qaeda has taken advantage of the political turmoil caused by the Arab Spring to build its operations across North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean.
By Jamie Crawford
The U.S. Navy has deployed two of its next-generation reconnaissance aircraft to Japan, a long-planned move that comes amid controversy over Chinese air defenses.
Designed to enhance the Navy's long-range maritime patrol capability, the P-8A Poseidon's specialty is submarine detection, the Navy said. The planes flew from Norfolk, Virginia, to Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, in recent days.
The P-8A Poseidon also is part of the Navy's effort to phase out the P-3C Orion. It is more technologically advanced than its predecessor and can fly higher with a crew of up to nine. It also can carry torpedoes, cruise missiles, bombs and mines.
While the Navy rebalances resources in the Pacific, the arrival of the aircraft comes at a time of heightened tension in the region with China's imposition of an air defense identification zone in the East China Sea.
By Paul Armstrong
By his own admission, one of the U.S Navy's top commanders says his Pacific fleet "gets all the best stuff" when it comes to state-of-the-art weaponry - an undeniable reflection of President Barack Obama's so-called pivot towards Asia.
The flagship of its 7th fleet, the Nimitz-class USS George Washington aircraft carrier boasts a formidable arsenal; from the latest FA-18 fighter jets, to anti-submarine helicopters and early-warning surveillance aircraft. Add to this the fleet's numerous missile destroyers, cruisers and submarines and the statement of intent is clear to see - Washington is serious about its role in the region.
"It's a long-term effort for us here," Fleet commander Vice Admiral Robert L. Thomas, told CNN aboard the giant vessel amid the muffled roar of jet engines from the flight deck directly above. "From a policy perspective it's a shift in balance of not only our resources but our thinking across diplomatic, information, economic and military lines to the Pacific.
"But I would offer that the 7th Fleet never left - we've been a strong presence here for the past 70 years. We're slowly shifting from a 50/50 mix in the United States Navy to a 40% Atlantic, 60% Pacific mix," he added, referring to the gradual swing away from traditional areas of operation in the West.FULL STORY
By Chelsea J. Carter
Iran will not dismantle any of its nuclear facilities as part of an effort to reach a long-term agreement to limit its nuclear development, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in an interview published Friday in The Financial Times.
Asked during the interview if dismantling Iran's nuclear facilities was a "red line," Rouhani said: "100 percent."
Rouhani's statements are unlikely to sit well with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has said any long-term agreement with Iran over its nuclear development must lead to the dismantling of the country's nuclear capability.
Iran and the so-called P5+1 - the United States, Britain, China, Russia, France and Germany - agreed Sunday to a six-month deal to limit Tehran's nuclear development.FULL STORY
By Tim Hume, Jethro Mullen and Yoko Wakatsuki
China sent fighter jets into its newly claimed air defense zone Thursday, as Japan and South Korea sounded notes of defiance by declaring they would continue to fly through disputed airspace without notifying Beijing.
South Korea announced yesterday it had already sent a military flight into China's newly claimed "air defense identification zone" (ADIZ) on Tuesday without alerting China, while Japan appeared to claim it had also flown into the territory since China's announcement Saturday that it was unilaterally establishing the zone.
The flights have raised the stakes in a rapidly escalating dispute over contested territory in and above the East China Sea. They follow U.S. flights into the territory earlier in the week, when two unarmed B-52 bombers passed uncontested through the zone, in what the Pentagon described as a pre-planned military exercise.
Col. Shen Jinke, spokesman for the People's Liberation Army Air Force, said the Chinese warplanes, including Su-30 and J-11 fighters and an airborne radar early warning system, were flown Thursday into the ADIZ in what he described as a "defensive measure ... in line with international practices."FULL STORY
It's the 12th Thanksgiving in Afghanistan for US troops. But after 12 years of war, with Afghan corruption still rampant, billions of dollars in aid spent, more than 2,000 troops killed and more than 19,000 wounded, some are asking why don't all the American troops just come home, rather than signing an agreement with Afghanistan that could keep some troops there past 2014. Barbara Starr reports.
By Saima Mohsin and Mariano Castillo
A Pakistani political party official has publicly named two U.S. CIA officials in connection with a police murder investigation into a drone strike.
Police had already initiated an investigation against unnamed persons after a recent drone strike that killed five. In a televised news conference Wednesday, Shireen Mazari, information secretary for the Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party said she filed an addendum to the police complaint, singling out two U.S. officials.
She gave the names of U.S. CIA Director John Brennan and a person identified as the CIA's Station Chief based in Pakistan. U.S. officials did not confirm to CNN the accuracy of her claims.
"I can't speak to the alleged operational issues, but more broadly I note we have a strong ongoing dialogue with Pakistan regarding all aspects of our bilateral relationship and shared interests," a U.S. Embassy official in Pakistan told CNN.FULL STORY
By Paul Armstrong
The deafening roar of state-of-the-art warplanes being catapulted into the air from its huge flight deck signaled that the USS George Washington was back in combat mode after its recent detour to the Philippines to take part in the aid effort in the wake of Super Typhoon Haiyan.
Barely a week on and the 90,000-ton Nimitz-class aircraft carrier is now patrolling waters off the island of Okinawa as part a huge naval exercise - AnnualEx 2013 - involving dozens of warships, submarines and aircraft from the U.S. Navy's 7th fleet and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF).
The aim? To provide a stern test of their ability to effectively and mutually respond to the defense of Japan or to a regional crisis or contingency situation in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, according to the U.S. Navy.
But this year's war games have taken on an added dimension given the high-pressure atmosphere in the region at present - they take place in the shadow of a controversial new Air Defense Identification Zone announced by the Chinese last weekend.FULL STORY
By Barbara Starr
Two U.S. Air Force B-52 aircraft on Monday flew into China's newly claimed air defense zone over the East China Sea without identifying themselves as China would have wanted, a U.S. official confirmed Tuesday.
This follows China's move last week to announce a new air zone over islands that both China and Japan claim.
The flights of the B-52s would not be a departure from the United States' previously stated intentions. Since China declared the new air zone last week, the United States said it would continue with its own air operations in the region and not recognize China's new restrictions, which require aircraft entering the zone to identify themselves and file flight plans.
The B-52s, which flew from Guam and returned there without incident, were not armed because it was a training mission. The mission lasted for several hours, but the aircraft were in the newly declared Chinese air zone for about an hour, according to the U.S. official.FULL STORY