The White House Friday defended "tireless" Secretary of State John Kerry, saying his long-odds Middle East peace bid had not been a waste of time because the stakes were so high. The administration rode to Kerry's defense amid rising criticism of his decision to devote so much time to the peace effort, which appears on the verge of collapse. "What Secretary Kerry has done is work tirelessly," said Josh Earnest, a White House spokesman, noting the top US diplomat's frequent travel to Israel and the Palestinian territories. Asked whether Kerry's time had been wasted, or if it could have been better spent on many of the other boiling global crises, Earnest said the goal of Middle East peace was so important that he had been right to try.
Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday pledged US support for Moroccan reforms and efforts to promote regional stability, while also highlighting the social challenges faced by Rabat. "Morocco is playing an important leadership role, and the United States will stand by this relationship every step of the way," he said at the end of a North African tour. "The 18 different agreements that Morocco signed with Mali show that Morocco is driving greater security and greater prosperity in the region," he added, speaking in Rabat alongside his Moroccan counterpart, Salaheddine Mezouar. Those accords, signed in February during a tour of West Africa by King Mohammed VI, included an agreement to train hundreds of imams in Morocco.
The new US ambassador to the European Union, Anthony Luzzatto Gardner, said on Friday that the crisis in Ukraine had reinforced transatlantic ties and highlighted increased European integration. "The EU is a much more effective partner... compared to 20 years ago when fewer members were not able to come up with a common view," said Gardner at a press conference in Brussels. Gardner, who took over the post last month, said the response to Russia's intervention in Ukraine -- including sanctions and the signing of an association agreement with Kiev -- had been impressive. He added that the crisis had "confirmed the role of NATO" and helped "to reinforce transatlantic ties".
By Lesley Wroughton RABAT (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday Washington was evaluating whether to continue its role in Middle East peace talks, signaling his patience with the Israelis and Palestinians was running out. Speaking during a visit to Morocco after a week of setbacks, Kerry said there was a limit to U.S. efforts if the parties themselves were unwilling to move forward.
By Aruna Viswanatha WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department is investigating high-speed trading for possible insider trading, Attorney General Eric Holder told lawmakers on Friday. The disclosure comes the same week that regulators and the FBI also confirmed they are looking into potential wrongdoing by high-frequency stock traders. "I can confirm that we at the Justice Department are investigating this practice to determine whether it violates insider trading laws," Holder told a House panel at a hearing on the Justice Department's budget. Earlier this week the heads of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission also confirmed those agencies have several active probes into market integrity and structure issues, including high-speed and automated trading.