National Newswatch

US outlines possible sanctions relief for Iran in nuke talks

Apr 21 2021 — Matthew Lee — WASHINGTON — A senior U.S. official said Wednesday that the Biden administration has laid out examples of the kinds of sanctions on Iran it’s willing to lift in exchange for Iran’s return to compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal. The official said the U.S. through intermediaries has presented Iran with three baskets of sanctions: those […]

NATO to match US troop pullout from Afghanistan

Apr 14 2021 — Matthew Lee — BRUSSELS — NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg says the alliance has agreed to withdraw its roughly 7,000 non-American forces from Afghanistan to match U.S. President Joe Biden’s decision to pull all American troops from the country starting on May 1. Stoltenberg said the full withdrawal would be completed “within a few months” but did not mention […]

Attack on Iran’s Natanz plant muddies US-Iran nuclear talks

Apr 13 2021 — Matthew Lee — WASHINGTON — The attack on Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility is casting a major shadow over the resumption of indirect talks between the U.S. and Iran over resurrection of the international accord limiting Iran's nuclear program. Neither Iran nor the U.S. say the incident will crater the negotiations. But the attack and the destruction of a […]

US unveils new rules for government contacts with Taiwan

Apr 9 2021 — Matthew Lee — WASHINGTON — The State Department on Friday unveiled new rules for U.S. government contacts with Taiwan that are likely to anger China but appear to reimpose some restrictions that had been lifted by the Trump administration. The department announced the changed policy in a statement that said the Biden administration intends to “liberalize” the rules […]

US resumes funding to UN agency for Palestinian refugees

Apr 8 2021 — Matthew Lee — WASHINGTON — The Biden administration on Wednesday announced a resumption of U.S. assistance to the Palestinians, including to the U.N. agency that deals with Palestinian refugees, nearly all of which had been eliminated under President Donald Trump. The State Department said it would provide a total of $235 million to projects in the West Bank […]

US weighs joint approach to Beijing Olympics with allies

Apr 6 2021 — Matthew Lee — WASHINGTON — The State Department said Tuesday the Biden administration is consulting with allies about a joint approach to China and its human rights record, including how to handle the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics. The department initially suggested that an Olympic boycott to protest China’s rights abuses was among the possibilities but a senior official […]

US boosts aid to Palestinians as some in Congress cry foul

Apr 6 2021 — Matthew Lee — WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is moving again to increase U.S. assistance to the Palestinians as it fires up a new Mideast policy that is directly opposite of the one pursued by its predecessor. For the third time in two weeks, the administration has either publicly announced or quietly notified Congress of its intent to […]

Biden admin lauds talks on readmitting US to Iran nuke deal

Apr 1 2021 — Matthew Lee — WASHINGTON — The Biden administration on Thursday welcomed a European Union announcement that the participants in the Iran nuclear deal will meet this week to discuss a possible return of the United States to the 2015 accord. Friday’s virtual meeting of officials from Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and Iran comes as the U.S. is […]

Biden administration quietly ramping up aid to Palestinians

Mar 31 2021 — Matthew Lee — WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is quietly ramping up assistance to the Palestinians after former President Donald Trump cut off nearly all aid. Since taking office with a pledge to reverse many of Trump's Israeli-Palestinian decisions, the administration has allocated nearly $100 million for the Palestinians, only a small portion of which has been publicized. […]

Blinken reaffirms Trump-era ruling on Hong Kong autonomy

Mar 31 2021 — Matthew Lee — WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday reaffirmed a determination made last year by the Trump administration that Hong Kong is no longer autonomous and remains undeserving of special treatment by the United States. In a notice sent to Congress, Blinken said China had continued to “dismantle” Hong Kong’s autonomy since his predecessor, […]

Blinken ends Trump rights plan promoting conservative agenda

Mar 30 2021 — Matthew Lee — WASHINGTON — In a sharp rebuke to Trump-era policies, Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday formally scrapped a blueprint championed by his predecessor to limit U.S. promotion of human rights abroad to causes favoured by conservatives like religious freedom and property matters while dismissing reproductive and LGBTQ rights. Blinken said a report prepared for […]

US ties with Russia, China sink as Biden toes tough lines

Mar 20 2021 — Matthew Lee — WASHINGTON — U.S. relations with its two biggest geo-political rivals are facing severe tests as President Joe Biden tries to assert America's place in the world and distinguish himself from his predecessor. Airing myriad complaints, the Biden administration took an extraordinarily tough line with China and Russia this past week. Public spats between the countries […]

US moves to reengage Europe in person after Trump snubs

Mar 19 2021 — Matthew Lee — WASHINGTON — America's top diplomat is heading to Europe next week as the Biden administration moves to restore closer U.S. ties with European and NATO allies after four years of snubs and tension under former President Donald Trump. The State Department announced Friday that Secretary of State Antony Blinken will visit Brussels for the administration’s […]

China, North Korea loom as Blinken, Austin head to Asia

Mar 14 2021 — Matthew Lee — WASHINGTON — Threats from China and North Korea will loom large over the Biden administration's first Cabinet-level trip abroad, part of a larger effort to bolster U.S. influence and calm concerns about America's role in Asia. A senior administration official said Saturday that U.S. officials have tried to reach out to North Korea through multiple […]

Top US, China officials to meet over intense divides

Mar 10 2021 — Matthew Lee — WASHINGTON — Senior U.S. and Chinese officials will meet next week in their first face-to-face talks since President Joe Biden took office to confront growing strains in the relationship between the world’s two largest economies. The White House and State Department said Wednesday that Secretary of State Antony Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan […]