Archive for North America
The Obama administration is directing all U.S. diplomatic posts overseas to review security and the State Department says it will give additional help to embassies and consulates in need. This initiative comes as the Senate Intelligence Committee edges toward releasing parts of a report documenting CIA abuses of terror suspects after the Sept. 11 attacks. The CIA has contested the conclusions of the report. The department’s disclosure of the move to tighten security was made in a recent letter to Sen. Jim Risch of Idaho. The department indicated in the letter that each American diplomatic post was reviewing security to protect American personnel, facilities and interests, including those of private citizens and businesses.
While President Obama has stepped up efforts to address the growing threat of the Islamic State, Senate Intelligence Committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) said the group is still aiming to take over Iraq, and has its eyes set on the country’s capital. “ISIS is a major threat to this country — in the future and right now — to the entirety of Syria and Iraq, and the expanding caliphate,” she said on State of the Union. “I think where they’re going is to Baghdad — it s my belief they will try to attack our embassy.” Feinstein commended President Obama for taking further action, even if it took longer than it should have. “It is overdue, but the president is now there, and I think it’s the right thing for America,” she said.
Former United States ambassador to Turkey Ross Wilson was surprisingly appointed to Ankara as chargé d’affaires by John Kerry according to a written statement made by the U.S. embassy in Ankara. The ambassador post being vacant for the past two months and the region being unsettled caused the foreign minister to take this decision. “John Bass, President [Barack] Obama’s nominee as ambassador to Turkey, is waiting for a vote of confirmation from the U.S. Senate. He is joined by more than 50 other ambassadorial nominees waiting for confirmation. Facing a gap in this crucial position and recognizing the centrality of strong Turkey-U.S. ties in responding to urgent regional challenges, Secretary of State [John] Kerry has asked Ross Wilson to temporarily return to Ankara,” stated the U.S. embassy. Ross Wilson served as U.S. ambassador to Ankara between the years 2005 and 2008, returning to the states to work in the academic and think tank areas. Wilson is expected to arrive in Ankara on Saturday, said the embassy.
Washington’s new Moscow envoy John Tefft swiftly took to Twitter upon arrival in Russia, saying on Friday that he was looking forward to what promises to be a tricky job. “I am very happy to be back in Russia,” Tefft, known for supporting the pro-Western aspirations of former Soviet states, said on the US embassy’s Twitter account in Russian. “I am looking forward to interacting and working with Russians representing all strata of society.” Tefft was deputy chief of mission at the US embassy in Moscow from 1996 to 1999. He is taking over the top job at a hugely sensitive time, with Moscow and Washington locked in a tug-of-war over the fate of ex-Soviet Ukraine, and Washington threatening Russia with fresh sanctions. Previously he served as US ambassador to Ukraine from 2009 to 2013 and was Washington’s representative in Georgia during its five-day war with Russia in 2008. A US embassy spokesman confirmed on Friday that Tefft had arrived in Russia but would not comment on his planned public engagements.
The U.S. is adding 350 more troops to help protect the American Embassy in Baghdad and its support facilities in the capital, raising the number of U.S. forces in the country to over 1,000, officials said. President Barack Obama approved the additional troops for protection of American personnel following a request by the State Department and a review and recommendation by the Defense Department, the White House said in a statement. The additional troops will not serve in a combat role, the White House said. Most are from the Army and some are Marines, the Pentagon said in a statement. Approximately 820 troops have now been assigned to augment diplomatic security in Iraq, said Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon’s spokesman.
The Turkish foreign ministry has summoned the most senior U.S. diplomat in the country for clarification of a report about American and British spying in Turkey. Deputy Prime Minister Bulent said the U.S. charge d’affaires and Turkish officials had discussed the report. German magazine Der Spiegel and the online magazine The Intercept said that documents provided by former U.S. National Security Agency analyst Edward Snowden show that Turkey was a high priority intelligence target for U.S. and British intelligence services. According to Turkish news wires, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan downplayed the importance of the report, saying that all major countries spied on each other. An earlier report that Germany’s main intelligence agency had also targeted Ankara drew a more angry response from the Turkish government.
Leading chefs have urged Matthew Barzun, the United States’ ambassador to the United Kingdom, to broaden his mind – and palate – after he complained of having his fill of “lamb and potatoes” since arriving in London. Barzun has proved a breath of fresh air since his posting was announced last year, hosting rock concerts at Winfield House, the ambassador’s Regent’s Park residence, where fried catfish and corn dog canapés are served. But stodgy catering at the relentless round of diplomatic dinners Mr Barzun is required to attend has tried the patience of the 43-year-old. Asked by Tatler to describe his ideal dinner party, the Harvard graduate replied undiplomatically: “I’ll tell you what I would not serve – lamb and potatoes. I must have had lamb and potatoes 180 times since I have been here. There are limits and I have reached them.” Mark Hix, the chef and restaurateur who runs the Oyster and Chop House in East London, said a good roast offered far more potential than the “meat and potatoes” dishes that made Mr Barzun queasy.