Vice President Joe Biden vowed the US would work with Ukraine and other allies to prevent countries like Russia from using energy as a "political weapon." In a telephone call with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Biden said aid from the United States and other countries would help Ukraine "meet its most pressing needs," the White House said in a statement. On Thursday, President Barack Obama signed a bill providing Kiev with $1 billion in loan guarantees, amid the worst East-West crisis since the end of the Cold War. The International Monetary Fund last month announced a $14-$18 billion bailout for Ukraine on Thursday that imposes tough economic conditions that will alter the lives Ukrainians who have grown accustomed to the comforts of Soviet-era subsidies and welfare benefits.
By Alistair Bell NEW YORK (Reuters) - The leader of Scotland's separatist movement predicted on Friday that the United States would not try to stand in the way of the breakup of Britain, Washington's staunchest ally for decades, if Scots vote for independence at a referendum this year. Instead, the Obama administration could use the reasonably orderly debate in Britain about Scotland's future as an example to other countries facing constitutional crises, said Alex Salmond, the separatist leader who heads the Scottish National Party and who is Scotland's first minister.
US Vice President Joe Biden called Friday for democratic rule in Hong Kong as he met with two outspoken activists from the semi-autonomous Chinese metropolis. In an unusually high sign of support, the White House said Biden stopped by talks at the White House with Martin Lee, a founder of the opposition Democratic Party, and Anson Chan, the former number two in the Hong Kong government. "The vice president underscored our long-standing support for democracy in Hong Kong and for the city's high degree of autonomy under the 'one country, two systems' framework," a White House statement said.
The United States has issued a license allowing Boeing to do business with Iran for the first time since the US embargo of 1979, a company spokesman told AFP Friday. Boeing will still not be allowed to sell new planes to Iran, the spokesman said. The license was granted by the US Treasury Department in the context of an interim deal between world powers and Iran over its nuclear program signed in November, the spokesman added. At the end of February, another US company, General Electric, indicated it had requested permission to sell spare airliner parts to Iran, but so far it has not received a response.
By Sharon Bernstein SACRAMENTO, California (Reuters) - A prominent Democratic California state senator and gun-control advocate was indicted by a San Francisco grand jury on charges of corruption and conspiracy to traffic in firearms, according to court documents released on Friday. The indictment adds to the troubles facing state Senator Leland Yee, who was arrested last week and criminally charged along with two dozen others in the same case. Yee, 65, is the third California state senator to face criminal charges this year in separate cases that have cost Democrats a cherished two-thirds legislative majority in an election year and prompted them to cancel a major fundraiser planned for this weekend. Senate Democratic leader Darrell Steinberg, who has said that the charges against Yee "sickened" him, on Friday renewed calls for the senator to resign.