A White House spokesman said Wednesday that US officials have seen "no evidence" that Russian troops have pulled back from the tense border with Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin had earlier said that the estimated 40,000 Russian troops deployed on the frontier had withdrawn to their usual training grounds. But, speaking to reporters on Air Force One, White House deputy spokesman Josh Earnest said that "to date" there has been "no evidence that such a withdrawal has taken place." Earnest made his remarks after the Russian leader met with Swiss President Didier Burkhalter, current chief of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
The United States will remain committed and engaged in Central Asia after this year's troop pullout from Afghanistan, US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns said in ex-Soviet Uzbekistan on Wednesday. "My message is straightforward: America's commitment to Central Asia and to Uzbekistan is enduring because America's interest in Central Asia and in Uzbekistan are enduring," Burns told reporters in Tashkent. Burns said discussions with Uzbek officials focused on the US drawdown in Afghanistan as well as American concerns about Russia's "aggressive and provocative actions" in Ukraine, looking at "how much these developments can affect other countries such as Uzbekistan." Uzbekistan, Central Asia's most populous country, shares a 100-kilometre-long border with northern Afghanistan and a rail link to the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif, making it a key hub for the transfer of non-lethal goods to Afghanistan.
Africa's second biggest oil producer and one of its fastest growing economies, Angola is at the centre of a race for influence between China and the United States, both greedily eyeing its huge trade potential. The competition is on full display this week, with Angola's capital Luanda welcoming Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Thursday for a 48-hour visit, just three days after it laid out the red carpet for US Secretary of State John Kerry. "The intention of (US President) Barack Obama, just like China, is to diversify trade with Angola to deepen cooperation with the country and, more generally, with Africa," said Vicente Pinto de Andrade, economics professor at the Angola Catholic University.
The US economy is on track for "solid growth" in the second quarter after the winter freeze, US Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said Wednesday. But with the housing industry slowing and unemployment still high, the economy still needs "a high degree of monetary accommodation," she told a congressional committee. Yellen said the growth stall in the first quarter was "mostly reflecting transitory factors, including the effects of the unusually cold and snowy winter weather." "With the harsh winter weather behind us, many recent indicators suggest that a rebound in spending and production is already under way," she said.
An American FBI agent arrested in Pakistan for trying to board a plane while carrying pistol ammunition has been remanded in police custody until the weekend, officials said. The man was held at Karachi airport Monday when security staff found 15 bullets for a 9mm handgun during routine checks for a flight to Islamabad. Sources close to the case said Wednesday he was an agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, while the Washington Post described him as an FBI staffer on temporary assignment in Pakistan to help local authorities investigate corruption. The Airport Security Force detained the man before handing him over to police.
The United States said Tuesday it will soon start issuing work visas to the spouses of some foreign workers as part of a drive to retain highly skilled people. The change will affect the spouses of people with so-called H-1B visas, a limited-term working visa that employees obtain when they are sponsored by their companies. When spouses cannot work foreign families tend not to settle in the United States, depriving it of many workers highly skilled in science and technology. Under the changes, spouses of people with H-1B visas who have applied for permanent residency 'green cards' can also apply for permission to work.
At least three US Navy P-3 Orion surveillance planes were crushed "beyond repair" when unusually heavy snowfall swept across Japan in February, a US military daily reported Wednesday. The planes were inside a contractor's hangar near the US Navy air facility in Atsugi, west of Tokyo, the Pacific Stars and Stripes said in its online edition, citing a US Naval spokeswoman. Tokyo and its vicinity on the Pacific board are not used to heavy snow storms.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Over the next month, two of President Barack Obama's closest first-term advisers will spill insider details on the administration's handling of the early days of the Great Recession, the White House's cautious response to the Syrian civil war and the genesis of clandestine talks with Iran.
Monica Lewinsky, the onetime White House intern whose 1990s affair with Bill Clinton nearly brought down his presidency, broke a long silence on Tuesday, saying she regretted what happened. Writing in Vanity Fair magazine, Lewinsky, 40, said it was time to stop "tiptoeing around my past -- and other people's futures. I am determined to have a different ending to my story." Her affair with Clinton was one between consenting adults and the public humiliation she suffered altered the direction of her life, she wrote. Lewinsky added, "I, myself, deeply regret what happened between me and President Clinton.