November 19, 2013 |
BEIRUT -- A pair of explosions apparently targeting the Iranian Embassy rocked a southern Beirut neighborhood early Tuesday, leaving at least 20 dead, including an Iranian diplomat, and close to 100 injured, authorities said. The casualty count was expected to rise. The attacks appeared to be the latest spillover of violence from neighboring Syria, where a civil war has been raging for more than two years. Iran is a major ally of the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
November 14, 2013 |
France has long established itself as the guardian of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and its disarmament mandates. A republic capable of much cynicism, France has nonetheless defended the integrity of the treaty and protected its much battered norms. This was the case last week in Geneva when France resisted an agreement with Iran that it deemed insufficiently robust. For now, Washington has conceded to Paris, provoking a chorus of criticism from those who seek an accord at any price.
November 13, 2013 |
JERUSALEM -- New plans for Israeli settlements in the West Bank are adding fresh tension to the country's already stressed relations with the U.S. and the Palestinians. The announcement Tuesday of long-term development plans that would add 20,000 housing units in West Bank settlements was met with surprise and concern by U.S. officials. "Our position on the settlements is quite clear: We do not accept the legitimacy of continued settlement activity," said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki in a daily media briefing . The U.S. has expressed concern over steps that are "not conducive" to peace negotiations with the Palestinians, she said, "and settlements is certainly one of them.
November 13, 2013 |
TUCSON - The mother calling from the Mexican state of Chihuahua hadn't heard from her son for days and she feared the worst. Her voice cracked. She spoke quickly. She told the young man on the other end of the phone that she needed help. In Tucson, a meticulously coiffed young operator wearing a dark tie responded calmly in Spanish. "When was the last time you spoke with him?" he asked. They last talked, she said, right before her 23-year-old son embarked on an illicit journey into the United States, trudging through the Arizona desert.
November 10, 2013 |
It's understandable that there is skepticism about whether Iran would abide by an interim agreement to suspend most of its nuclear activities in exchange for some relief from economic sanctions. But the United States and the other nations that have been negotiating with the new government in Tehran are right to pursue such an arrangement as a way to test Iran's insistence that it's willing to forswear the development of nuclear weapons over the long run. Members of Congress inclined to oppose this initiative should allow it time to succeed or fail.
November 9, 2013 |
WASHINGTON -- Diplomats in Geneva worked into the evening Saturday to avoid a disappointing and inconclusive end to the effort to cobble a preliminary deal to place limits on Iran's nuclear program. The seven-nation talks had appeared headed for an announcement of a deal two days ago, but objections from France and perhaps other countries to a draft text raised complications that diplomats were unable to quickly resolve. While Secretary of State John F. Kerry huddled with European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and then separately with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, it appeared that negotiations might adjourn for a week or more while diplomats consulted their capitals about political and technical issues.
November 8, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - Secretary of State John F. Kerry and other top Western diplomats flew to Geneva on Friday in the hope of completing an accord to freeze Iran's nuclear program, but the high-stakes diplomatic push ran into obstacles that dimmed prospects for a quick resolution after a decade-long stalemate. Instead of the expected signing ceremony Saturday, disappointed diplomats said they expect the talks to spill at least into next week. Diplomats declined to say why the deal has stalled, but the two sides are known to disagree about Iran's construction of a plutonium reactor, a possible route to a nuclear bomb.
October 30, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - The expanding transatlantic scandal over U.S. eavesdropping on Europe's leaders and spying on its citizens has begun to strain intelligence relationships and diplomatic ties between allies that call each other best friends, according to diplomats and foreign policy experts. The cascade of embarrassing disclosures is not expected to upend one of President Obama's goals, a proposed transatlantic free-trade agreement that could generate billions of dollars a year, or halt cooperation on top security issues, such as efforts to curb Iran's nuclear program and contain the Syrian civil war. But the documents leaked by former National Security Agency computer specialist Edward Snowden, which on Wednesday exposed a joint U.S.-British spying operation on the Internet, have caused friction in multiple capitals and put the Obama administration on the defensive at home and abroad.
October 20, 2013 |
BEIRUT - As diplomats haggled over the prospect of Syrian peace talks, dozens of people were killed and many injured Sunday when a massive car bomb exploded outside the central Syrian city of Hama. The blast was the latest in a string of bombings and fierce clashes that have continued to ravage Syria as U.S., Russian and other officials try to bring both sides to the table in Geneva for negotiations to help end the conflict, now in its third year. But the prospects for peace appear dim. A suicide driver detonated the car bomb on an eastern approach to Hama, according to opposition and official accounts.
October 18, 2013 |
Barack Obama came to office in 2009 promising a new era of diplomacy and engagement after the confrontational "axis of evil" approach of the George W. Bush administration. During his campaign, Obama said he would be willing to meet with the leaders of Iran, Venezuela, North Korea, Cuba and Syria "without preconditions. " "I would," he said. "And the reason is this: that the notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them, which has been the guiding principle of this administration, is ridiculous.