Two OSCE monitoring teams taken prisoner by separatist gunmen in eastern Ukraine are alive, the head of the European security body said Monday. They are alive and well," said Lamberto Zannier, secretary general of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Zannier told reporters that the OSCE was working around the clock to win the captives' freedom, but declined to elaborate, citing the confidential nature of the talks. "My priority is to win their immediate freedom, without conditions," he said, after briefing diplomats at Swiss think-tank the Geneva Centre for Security Policy.
Barack Obama's decision to release five Taliban leaders from Guantanamo Bay has been attacked by some as illegal or reckless, but could bring him closer to his goal of closing the prison camp. Supporters of the president's efforts to close Guantanamo said the move showed that he is closing in on his goal. Obama has defended the decision to release the detainees, Taliban leaders caught early in the conflict and accused of some of the worst excesses of Afghanistan's pre-2001 regime.
Neither Chris McDaniel, the conservative firebrand vying for Mississippi’s U.S. Senate nomination today, nor the six-term establishment Republican incumbent he is challenging, Thad Cochran, is likely to be the future of the GOP. They’re not even great campaigners. Why, then, are so many Washington, D.C.-based Republican aides and operatives fixated on this race, a bitter fight between two gaffe-prone men with on-the-ground operations so strained they can barely keep up with a deluge of national requests pouring in their way?
An Iraqi "high-value" detainee at Guantanamo, accused of being an Al-Qaeda commander in Afghanistan and Pakistan, was referred to a military court on terror charges, the Pentagon said Tuesday. Guantanamo's highest military court authority on Monday approved the charges against Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi, who was accused of directing fatal attacks against Americans and their allies in Pakistan and elsewhere between 2001 and 2006, a statement said. The 53-year-old Iraqi native, transferred to Guantanamo in April 2007, was among the last to arrive at the US prison for terror suspects in Cuba.
House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner backed calls on Tuesday for congressional hearings on the decision to swap five Taliban prisoners from the Guantanamo detention center for captured U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl. Boehner, a Republican, described how President Barack Obama's administration had consulted with Congress more than two years ago about the possibility of such an operation. "The administration has invited serious questions into how this exchange went down and the calculations the White House and relevant agencies made in moving forward without consulting Congress despite assurances it would re-engage with members on both sides of the aisle," Boehner said in a statement. Boehner said he joined all Americans in welcoming Bergdahl home, but signaled there will likely be a series of hearings at least in the Republican-led House looking into the circumstances of his release.
Saudi King Abdullah Tuesday hailed the election of Egypt's ex-army chief Abdel Fatah al-Sisi to the presidency as an "historic day," calling for a donors conference to help Egypt through its economic troubles. The king, whose oil-rich nation is a strong ally of Egypt, said Sisi's sweeping win with 96.9 percent of the vote represents a "historic day and a new stage for Egypt," in a telegram published by Saudi state news agency SPA. "To the brothers and friends of Egypt ... I invite all to a donors conference ... to help it overcome its economic crisis," he said. Riyadh pledged billions of dollars in aid to Egypt's new authorities after the overthrow of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi last July.
Ramallah (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) - Palestinian prime minister Rami Hamdallah assured foreign diplomats on Tuesday that his new unity government would respect past agreements with Israel, after chairing the cabinet's first meeting. The new 17-member cabinet was sworn in on Monday before president Mahmud Abbas, in line with a surprise reconciliation deal reached in April between Gaza's Islamist rulers Hamas and the PLO, which dominates the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority. "Hamdallah stressed that the government is committed to all international agreements signed by the Palestine Liberation Organisation ... international political initiatives and peaceful solutions," his office said. Hamdallah was briefing European Union representatives to the Palestinian territories on his new government, also telling them his cabinet would focus on providing services and resolving pressing water issues in the Gaza Strip.
Libya's outgoing premier said Tuesday he would hand power to his rival and successor in "a week or two," after deadly fighting between a rogue ex-general and Islamists in their Benghazi stronghold. Abdullah al-Thani had refused to recognise the new government of Ahmed Miitig, who convened a cabinet meeting Monday despite his objections.
An armed Russian fighter jet intercepted a US military reconnaissance plane in late April in international airspace over the Sea of Okhotsk, several days after another intimidating maneuver in the Black Sea, the Pentagon disclosed Tuesday. US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey both communicated US concerns over the incident directly to the Russians, Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steven Warren said. Warren said the US RC-135 reconnaissance plane was on a routine mission over international airspace when it was intercepted by an Su-27 fighter.
Turning a new page in their troubled ties, President Barack Obama is set to name the first American ambassador to Somalia since the civil war erupted over 20 years ago, a US diplomat said Tuesday. "As a reflection both of our deepening relationship with the country and of our faith that better times are ahead, the president will propose the first US ambassador to Somalia in more than two decades," Undersecretary Wendy Sherman told a US think tank. Although the US never formally severed ties, the embassy in Mogadishu was closed in 1991 as Somalia descended into chaos amid a bloody power struggle among brutal warlords. "Almost overnight the very word 'Somalia' became a synonym for chaos," Sherman told the US Institute for Peace.
The OSCE's media rights advocate urged US authorities on Tuesday not to take action against a US journalist who refuses to testify in a trial against a former CIA officer. New York Times journalist James Risen was summoned by a federal appeals court to testify about confidential information leaked to him by ex-CIA official Jeffrey Sterling. "It is not acceptable to force a journalist to testify and disclose their sources when reporting on matters of public interest," OSCE media freedom representative Dunja Mijatovic said in a statement Tuesday.
Ramallah (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) - Palestinian prime minister Rami Hamdallah assured European diplomats Tuesday that his new unity government would respect past agreements with Israel, after chairing the cabinet's first meeting. The new 17-member cabinet was sworn in on Monday before president Mahmud Abbas, in line with a surprise reconciliation deal reached in April between Gaza's Islamist rulers Hamas and the PLO, which dominates the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority. "Hamdallah stressed that the government is committed to all international agreements signed by the Palestine Liberation Organisation... international political initiatives and peaceful solutions," his office said. Hamdallah was briefing EU representatives to the Palestinian territories on his new government, telling them also that his cabinet would focus on service provision and resolving pressing water issues in the Gaza Strip.
The United States and Tunisia on Tuesday signed a $500 million loan guarantee agreement that will help Tunis raise money at affordable rates from commercial capital markets. The US Treasury said that the guarantee is aimed at helping the country rebuild its economy in the wake of the 2011 popular uprising that overthrew dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. "The loan guarantee agreement is designed to support Tunisia as it pursues important reforms that will provide the foundation for economic growth and prosperity," the Treasury said. It was the second US loan guarantee for the North African country.