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Thorn in the Side of 9 US Presidents: the Assads

Marathon negotiations with Bashar al-Assad's father were nicknamed 'bladder diplomacy'

(Newser) - The Assad family has been in power in Syria since a successful coup in 1970, the last of dozens that occurred after the country, which is wedged between Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, and Iraq, had declared sovereignty from France in 1946. Since then, each of nine American presidents has tried... More »

Tillerson Takes Bold Stance on Countering North Korea

Says pre-emptive military action is definitely 'option on the table'

(Newser) - Looks like North Korea and the US finally agree on something—though unfortunately, that something is the possibility of war. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is in South Korea, where he said Friday that the era of "strategic patience" is over and pre-emptive military action is definitely an "... More »

Trump Steps Up Criticism of China

Insiders say Taiwan call was part of the plan

(Newser) - The Donald Trump phone conversation that led to an official complaint from Beijing was a calculated move, not an innocent congratulatory call or a blunder made by a man with no knowledge of foreign policy, insiders tell the Washington Post . Instead, the provocative conversation with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen was... More »

Aides, Officials Fight on Tarmac as Obama Arrives in China

They also forgot the stairs to get Obama off Air Force One

(Newser) - If President Barack Obama was hoping for a graceful start to his final trip to Asia as commander in chief, this wasn't it. The AP reports a confrontation between a White House aide and a Chinese official, and other diplomatic dust-ups were out in the open from the moment... More »

How a Secret Pregnancy Nearly Jeopardized US-Cuba Talks

White House worried Adriana Pérez's belly would raise suspicion

(Newser) - The American flag will be raised above a reopened embassy in Havana today for the first time in more than 50 years. It's just the latest sign that US-Cuba relations have been transformed in the last 18 months, but a secret pregnancy could have derailed it all. The New ... More »

What New US-Cuba Relations Look Like

US to cut travel restrictions after release of Alan Gross

(Newser) - With the release of American Alan Gross , the beleaguered relationship between the US and Cuba is poised to undergo major changes. The two countries are preparing to normalize their diplomatic relations, which were severed in January 1961, the Wall Street Journal reports, and the US plans to re-establish its embassy... More »

US' Latest Diplomatic Brouhaha: Hungary

US cites suspicion of officials' corruption in denying 6 visas

(Newser) - Tensions between US and Hungary have surged after the US denied visas to six Hungarian officials amid suspicion of corruption. A pro-government Hungarian news site says the denials were retribution for a Hungarian investigation into American companies, but the US embassy says that's not the case, the New York ... More »

What Obama's Phone Calls Reveal

He's been talking a lot, but mostly to allies

(Newser) - As international crises pile up, President Obama has been spending a lot of time on the phone: White House records show that the president has made more calls to world leaders this month than in any other month except November 2012, when he was returning calls of congratulations on his... More »

Obama: No One Wants 'Actual War With Russia'

Meanwhile, Ukrainian commander released after ultimatum

(Newser) - The US won't be sending troops to Crimea anytime soon. President Obama effectively ruled out a military response to Russia's land grab yesterday, USA Today reports. "We do not need to trigger an actual war with Russia," he told KSDK-TV , in an interview ostensibly about raising... More »

Kissinger: To Fix Ukraine, Make It More Like Finland

It's independent, but cooperates with both West and Russia

(Newser) - Henry Kissinger weighs in on Ukraine in the Washington Post , delivering up heaps of criticism for all the major players. Russia, the US, Europe, and Ukraine itself are all "posturing" and turning this into a dangerous all-or-nothing showdown. By their misguided thinking, Ukraine must end up either with the... More »

Air Force Nuke Chief Fired for Being Drunken 'Boor'

Michael Carey insulted hosts, cozied up to 'suspicious women' in Russia

(Newser) - When the Air Force fired Maj. Gen. Michael Carey in October, it said only that it was for "personal misbehavior." Now we know what that means. Carey essentially appears to have made a drunken spectacle of himself during a three-day official trip to Moscow in July, insulting his... More »

Iran Talks, More Calculated Than Advertised, Begin

Report indicates Obama worked hard for that Rouhani phone call

(Newser) - Talks kick off today between Iran and the other P5+1 nations, and both sides were brimming with cautious optimism. Iranian negotiator Mohammad Javed Zarif touted the possibility of a breakthrough, while a senior Obama administration official said that they see "the outlines of a first step," the New ... More »

Rodman 'Vacationing' With Kim Jong Un This Summer

Oh, and the Worm is jetting to Rome in hopes of meeting new pope, too

(Newser) - Just when you thought the Dennis Rodman-Kim Jong Un relationship couldn't possibly get any weirder ... now they're planning a vacation together, AFP reports. "I don't condone what he does, but he's my friend," Rodman said in a bizarre, rambling interview with KXJB yesterday. So... More »

Kerry Heads Out on 1st Trip

'Listening tour' centers on Syria solution, will hit 9 nations

(Newser) - Secretary of State John Kerry is off and racking up the frequent flier miles, embarking on his first official overseas voyage in a diplomatic mission to bring new ideas to European capitals and the Middle East on how to end nearly two years of brutal violence in Syria. Kerry today... More »

North Korea Fired a Rocket ... So What?

Simon Jenkins thinks we have nothing to fear but overreaction itself

(Newser) - North Korea fired a rocket this week, which might be the basis for an inter-continental missile. "How much should we all care? The answer is not much," writes Simon Jenkins at the Guardian . The most this missile might do is "cause a big bang somewhere." North... More »

US Recognizes Syria Rebels

President Obama gives blessing to opposition coalition

(Newser) - The US will formally recognize Syria's opposition as the country's legitimate representative, Barack Obama announced today in an interview with Barbara Walters on ABC . "It's a big step," Obama said. "We've made a decision that the Syrian Opposition Coalition is now inclusive enough,... More »

Obama to UN: People Are Free to 'Call Me Awful Things'

President condemns Libya attack as assault on UN ideals

(Newser) - President Obama addressed the UN in New York this morning, condemning the attack on the US consulate in Libya, defending free speech, and vowing to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Here's what he said.
  • Obama opened with a glowing tribute to the late Ambassador Chris Stevens, saying
... More »

Hillary Spurns Russia's Syria Plan: It Has 'No Teeth'

Clinton: US will join 'like-minded states' if standoff persists

(Newser) - Hillary Clinton heated up the diplomatic standoff over Syria today by saying Russia's plan for the UN Security Council is "without teeth." Russia's proposal, approved in Geneva in June, demands a ceasefire and transition of political power in Syria—but President Bashar al-Assad will dismiss it... More »

China Fumes Over US Knock on South China Sea

Beijing calls in top US diplomat Robert Wang

(Newser) - Stung by comments from Washington over the South China Sea, China has summoned a top US diplomat and urged America to "mend the error of its ways." The US State Department said Friday that China's creation of a new city with a military garrison to oversee the... More »

Clinton Breaks Travel Record

Secretary of state chalks up 100 countries with visit to Latvia

(Newser) - Four years after telling staffers that she would "not in a million years" consider becoming secretary of state, Hillary Clinton is setting a record: She visits Latvia today, the 100th country she has visited in the role. Clinton is now the best-traveled secretary of state in American history, having... More »

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