U.S., Afghanistan reach security agreement
November 20th, 2013
04:04 PM ET

U.S., Afghanistan reach security agreement

By Greg Botelho

The United States and Afghanistan have "reached an agreement as to the final language of the bilateral security agreement" between the two countries, America's top diplomat said Wednesday.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the accord was reached during conversations Wednesday between himself and Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

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When is an apology not an apology?
November 20th, 2013
02:04 PM ET

When is an apology not an apology?

By Elise Labott

In the delicate dance of diplomacy, the word "apology" can be a misstep.

Such is the case with a proposed letter of assurances from the United States to the people of Afghanistan, which is emerging as a way to overcome remaining hurdles to allowing some U.S. troops to remain in that country post-2014.

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November 20th, 2013
08:33 AM ET

Rice: Reports of a U.S. apology to Afghanistan are false

By Chelsea J. Carter and Elise Labott

Reports the United States is on the verge of a security agreement with Afghanistan that includes a formal letter of apology for past mistakes by American troops are completely false, the National Security adviser told CNN on Tuesday.

The statements came amid claims by Afghan officials that the Obama administration offered to write the letter as part of an effort to keep a small number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan well past the 2014 deadline to withdraw.

"No such letter has been drafted or delivered. There is not a need for the United States to apologize to Afghanistan," National Security Adviser Susan Rice said on CNN's "Situation Room."

"Quite the contrary, we have sacrificed and supported them in their democratic progress and in tackling the insurgents and al Qaeda. So that (letter of apology) is not on the table."

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Caroline Kennedy sworn in as ambassador to Japan
November 12th, 2013
06:34 PM ET

Caroline Kennedy sworn in as ambassador to Japan

By Jill Dougherty

In a private ceremony Tuesday afternoon at the State Department, Caroline Kennedy was sworn in by Secretary of State John Kerry as U.S. ambassador to Japan.

The event was closed to media, but the State Department released a photo showing a smiling Kennedy dressed in a simple black dress, her right hand raised, her left resting on what looked like a Bible held by her husband, Edwin Schlossberg. Nearby, their son John "Jack" Schlossberg looked on, wearing a dark suit, hands in pockets, his shock of dark hair an uncanny reminder of his deceased uncle, John Kennedy Jr., Caroline's brother.

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Iran, world powers inch closer to nuclear deal
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif
November 7th, 2013
09:09 PM ET

Iran, world powers inch closer to nuclear deal

From CNN Foreign Affairs Reporter Elise Labott

Iran and world powers are inching closer to a deal at talks on Iran’s nuclear program, senior Obama administration officials and Iran’s Foreign Minister said.

The U.S. officials say the sides are working toward an agreement in Geneva to curb Iran’s nuclear program and providing some relief from economic sanctions that have crippled its economy.

On Thursday, the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council - the United States, China, Russia, France and Britain - as well as Germany began talks with  Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.

Zarif told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that he hoped the parties could start drafting a framework agreement to announce at the end of talks Friday

“It's a framework that we have agreed upon,” he said. “We are prepared to address some of the most immediate concerns that have been raised and then we expect reciprocally for our concerns to be met.”
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Filed under: Iran • Nuclear • Sec. State John Kerry
On eve of Iran talks, optimism on initial agreement
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
November 6th, 2013
10:02 PM ET

On eve of Iran talks, optimism on initial agreement

By Elise Labott

World powers and Iran hope to reach an initial agreement at talks this week on Tehran’s nuclear program, diplomats and Iran’s foreign minister said.

If Iran agrees at talks in Geneva to take steps toward curbing its nuclear program, a senior U.S. administration official said Iran could see some relief from economic sanctions that have crippled its economy

"What we're looking for is a first phase, a first step, an initial understanding that stops Iran's nuclear program from moving forward and rolls it back for first time in decades," the senior U.S. administration official told reporters in Geneva on the eve of a fresh round talks between Iran and world powers.

In exchange, Washington would be willing to offer Iran "very limited, temporary, reversible sanctions relief,” the official said.
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Filed under: Diplomacy • Iran • Nuclear • Sanctions • Sec. State John Kerry
John Kerry visits Saudi Arabia to ease fears of rift with ally
November 4th, 2013
06:26 PM ET

John Kerry visits Saudi Arabia to ease fears of rift with ally

By Elise Labott

Call it the Mending Fences tour.

Monday's stop: Saudi Arabia, where Secretary of State John Kerry said he was determined to "make certain the Saudi-U.S. relationship is on track" amid deepening tensions between the United States and its longstanding ally.

Typically private regarding its diplomatic dealings with the United States, the Kingdom has been unusually vocal lately about its unhappiness with American policy.

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Kerry defends U.S. surveillance program, but admits it goes too far at times
November 1st, 2013
02:17 AM ET

Kerry defends U.S. surveillance program, but admits it goes too far at times

Secretary of State John Kerry defended U.S. surveillance programs as he took part in a London conference by video Thursday, but acknowledged, "yes, in some cases, it has reached too far inappropriately".

Kerry, who was in Washington, addressed the Open Government Partnership annual summit meeting.

During a discussion of the surveillance programs, Kerry talked about the spying accusations that have roiled world leaders.
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Filed under: NSA • Sec. State John Kerry
Kerry warns U.S.: ‘The world will not wait for us’
October 24th, 2013
06:06 PM ET

Kerry warns U.S.: ‘The world will not wait for us’

By Alison Harding

Fresh off the plane from a whirlwind four days of meetings in Europe, Secretary of State John Kerry stopped by a progressive policy forum in Washington on Thursday to chide U.S. leaders for allowing the government to shut down.

“I wanted just to come here this afternoon…to reflect on the damage that events like the one we’ve just been through can do to the esteem in which the U.S. is held in the world, a key component of our national power,” Kerry said at a Center for American Progress forum.

Kerry, who attended a series of international summits in Asia during the government shutdown, warned that the United States must “be far more conscious about how our leadership looks through other people's eyes.”

Gov. Brown pleads for comprehensive immigration reform

“I have seen how our allies and our partners and those who wish to challenge us or do us harm – they are all sizing us up. Every day they are taking our measure,” Kerry said. “What we do in Washington matters deeply to them. And that’s why a self-inflicted wound like the shutdown that we just endured can never happen again.”

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Filed under: Sec. State John Kerry
Kerry, Netanyahu discuss Iranian nuclear program in Rome
Secretary of State John Kerry and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Rome on Wednesday.
October 23rd, 2013
10:10 AM ET

Kerry, Netanyahu discuss Iranian nuclear program in Rome

By Jamie Crawford

Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States will not let up its pressure on Iran over its disputed nuclear program despite recent diplomatic overtures between the two countries.

"We will pursue a diplomatic initiative with eyes wide open," Kerry said in Rome during a meeting Wednesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, "aware it will be vital for Iran to live up to those standards other nations that have nuclear programs live up to as they prove those programs are indeed peaceful."

Despite a softening of rhetoric on some fronts by the regime in Tehran, there have been fears by other countries in the region that the United States might be too quick to offer incentives to Iran in the latest round of negotiations between Iran and the group known as the P5+1, which includes the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany.

Netanyahu, who has said Iran's nuclear program poses an existential threat to Israel, was cautious in his assessment of the current state of play.
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Filed under: Iran • Israel • Sec. State John Kerry
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