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
Ronnie Smith believed in three things: teaching, Libya and Jesus Christ.
The 33-year-old educator from Austin, Texas, was gunned down Thursday as he went on a morning jog outside his home in the Libyan city of Benghazi.
No one has claimed responsibility for the slaying. Libyan authorities have pledged to investigate the killing, the latest in a series of assassinations in some Libyan cities. There have been near-daily targeted killings in Benghazi and Derna, with the victims mainly security forces, activists and members of the judiciary.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's Paul Cruickshank and Nic Robertson
No group has yet claimed responsibility for the shooting death of American teacher Ronnie Smith on a morning jog in Benghazi Thursday, but a leading Libyan terrorism analyst believes it was most likely the work of groups linked or sympathetic to al Qaeda.
Libya’s Interior Ministry said four unidentified assailants in a black Jeep opened fire on Smith, killing him instantly.
By Elise Labott
American teacher Ronnie Smith has been shot and killed in Benghazi, according to the Facebook page of the international school in Libya where he worked.
The U.S. State Department confirmed the killing, and identified the educator as Ronald Thomas Smith II.
"The untimely death of Ronnie Smith has been felt by the whole school community," the International School Benghazi posted on its Facebook page. "He was a much loved teacher who supported students in their learning and always had time to help when asked. Ronnie was a professional who gave his time freely and without question. We do not understand why this has happened and it is extremely difficult for his students and his colleagues to accept."FULL STORY
By Barbara Starr
The U.S. plans to begin sea trials by the end of the month of a merchant marine ship with special equipment on board that can destroy much of Syria's chemical weapons stockpile, according to a U.S. Defense Department official who briefed reporters.
The ship, the M/V Cape Ray, is now in port in the Norfolk area of Virginia being outfitted with a chemical weapons "neutralization" system developed by the Pentagon. If the trials go well and the Pentagon plan is accepted by the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the ship could head to the region in January. The official, along with two others who briefed reporters, declined to be identified because the plan has not been approved by those international organizations.
The neutralization technology is called the Field Deployable Hydrolysis System. It mixes chemical agents with water and other chemicals to significantly lower any toxicity. The remaining material will then be destroyed in a commercial waste disposal site. "Absolutely nothing will be dumped at sea," the official said, adding that the technology is "safe and environmentally sound."
By Elise Labott
Jerusalem (CNN) - John Kerry’s ninth trip to Israel since becoming secretary of state could be among the most difficult.
He needs Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s buy-in for the two issues U.S. President Barack Obama has declared the centerpiece of his second term foreign policy – Iran and Middle East peace.
But at a time when the Israeli leader’s confidence in the United States is shaken over the Iran deal, his trust in the administration as broker of a peace deal with the Palestinians may waver.
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 Jennifer Rizzo and Shirley Henry
Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey said Wednesday he clearly understands a complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014 - known as the "zero option" - is a "possibility" given Afghan President Hamid Karzai's current unwillingness to sign the security pact that would govern some troops remaining in his country beyond that time frame.
But Dempsey also said he has not been told to plan for such a withdrawal.
By Jennifer Liberto
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Wednesday announced that he's trimming the budget for Pentagon headquarters by 20% starting in 2014, leading to jobs cuts and reduction in contracts with private companies.
The cuts will happen even if Congress ends sequester, according to the defense agency. Hagel said the time is right to "pare back overhead and streamline headquarters," after the fast growth of the agency in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
"These reductions are only a first step in DoD's efforts to realign defense spending to meet new fiscal realities and strategic priorities," Hagel said.
The cuts would trim $1 billion from 2014 through 2019. Hagel said the first jobs to be cut will about 200 workers from his own team of 2,400.FULL STORY