The US military is flying surveillance drones as well as manned aircraft over Nigeria to help the search for more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by Islamist extremists, the Pentagon said Wednesday. However, the data is not yet being shared with the Nigerians because Washington is still working out an agreement to govern the sharing of intelligence, Colonel Steven Warren told reporters. The United States has deployed the Global Hawk, which flies at high altitude, and the manned MC-12, a turboprop plane heavily used in Afghanistan, for the mission, a defense official who spoke on condition of anonymity told AFP. The Pentagon had initially declined to say publicly if drones were being used.
By Thomas Ferraro WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Senate Democrats unveiled legislation on Wednesday to allow millions of Americans with student loan debt to refinance at lower interest rates. Democrats said their measure would let holders of both federal and private undergraduate loans - some with rates of 9 percent or higher - to refinance at 3.86 percent. Drafted in coordination with the White House, the bill is part of Senate Democrats' 2014 legislative agenda aimed at giving all Americans \"a fair shot\" and rallying the party's liberal base in advance of the November elections. \"I don't think it will be seriously considered.\" Democrats control the Senate, 55-45, but need 60 votes to clear Republican procedural hurdles.
US ground and air forces held joint exercises with their Jordanian counterparts on Wednesday as the conflict in neighbouring Syria showed no let-up. Among those taking part in this year's war games are more than 1,000 soldiers and marines that Washington kept stationed in Jordan after last year's \"Eager Lion\" manoeuvres. The exercises centred on the sprawling Muwaffaq Salti air base in the eastern desert, which has long been seen as the mostly likely launchpad for any US intervention in Syria, like that which Washington briefly threatened late last year. \"The Royal Jordanian and US Air Forces carried out live fire exercises with F-16 and F-18 fighters, and practised aerial manoeuvres,\" the official Petra news agency reported.
Four weeks from publication of her new memoir, Hillary Clinton on Wednesday robustly defended her record as secretary of state and navigator of hot-button crises like Iran's nuclear drive and elusive Mideast peace. The book, \"Hard Choices,\" is set for a June 10 release and offers Clinton a framework for criss-crossing the country to boost her public standing as she mulls a possible run for the White House in 2016. Clinton told a Washington meeting of the American Jewish Committee that said she spent months holed up in her attic in upstate New York penning her memoir about the pitfalls and progress of conducting diplomacy in more than 110 countries. The book -- \"a light summer read,\" Clinton quipped -- highlights what she described as the \"endless set of tough calls\" she faced in her four years as President Barack Obama's first secretary of state.
US Secretary of State John Kerry met late Wednesday in London with Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas for their first face-to-face talks since the peace process collapsed last month, US officials said. \"The door remains open to the peace process. After weeks of angry moves by both sides, Israel suspended its participation in the talks on April 23 after Abbas announced the Palestine Liberation Organisation was seeking a unity deal with the Hamas militants who run the Gaza Strip.
Former president Bill Clinton swatted down Republican suggestions that wife Hillary's health could hamper her potential White House run, insisting Wednesday she is in \"better shape\" than him. \"She works out every week, she is strong, she's doing great,\" Clinton said at a fiscal forum in Washington. But her husband scoffed at Republican strategist Karl Rove's suggestion that Clinton suffered a \"traumatic brain injury\" during a 2012 fall that caused a concussion. \"First they said she faked her concussion,\" Bill Clinton said, alluding to Republican accusations she had exaggerated her injury to delay testifying about a terrorist attack on the US mission in Benghazi, Libya that killed four Americans.
The US military is flying surveillance drones as well as manned aircraft over Nigeria to help in the search for more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by Islamist extremists, the Pentagon said Wednesday. The United States has deployed the robotic Global Hawk, which flies at a high altitude, and the manned MC-12, a turboprop plane heavily used in Afghanistan, for the mission, a defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP. The Pentagon had initially declined to say publicly if drones were being used but acknowledged on Wednesday the robotic aircraft were involved in the hunt to find the girls. \"I can confirm that we're using both manned and unmanned aerial ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) assets in the search for the kidnapped girls,\" Colonel Steven Warren told reporters, without identifying the plane models.
The United States on Wednesday offered to help its ally Turkey, which was reeling from a mine disaster which killed 245 workers. \"On behalf of the American people, we extend our heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and our best wishes for the safe exit of the remaining miners,\" said White House spokesman Jay Carney. \"Turkey is a close and long-standing friend and ally of the United States.
The United States called Wednesday for an immediate deployment of African troops to safeguard a fragile peace deal reached last week by warring sides in South Sudan. The ceasefire agreement, signed last week in Addis Ababa, was the fruit of weeks of mounting international pressure and shuttle diplomacy. But fighting broke out again on Sunday, just hours after the accord was signed by President Salva Kiir and rebel chief Riek Machar. Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, said troops can help ensure that peace holds this time.
Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) (AFP) - Saudi Arabia's crown prince called Wednesday for stronger military cooperation between the United States and the Arab monarchies of the Gulf whose security he said was under threat. Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz, who also holds the defence portfolio, made the remarks at a meeting in the Saudi city of Jeddah between US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel and ministers from the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council. Hagel for his part stressed that Washington remained \"committed\" to the oil-rich region's security and stability.