(CBS News) JERUSALEM - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will address the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday, but the visions they will present to the world body are worlds apart.
Abbas wants to put the Palestinian issue back on the international agenda and will appeal to the U.N. to recognize the dispossessed Palestinian people as an independent state.
But the man who holds most of the cards with regard to granting the Palestinians statehood, Netanyahu, is playing an entirely different hand. In spite of the persistent threat of terrorism from Palestinian militant groups, Netanyahu has put the issue on a back burner.Continue »
(CBS News) LONDON - Russian President Vladimir Putin has asserted that "some people want to use militants from al Qaeda... to accomplish their goals in Syria."
In a loosely veiled dig at the U.S. support for Syria's opposition, Putin argued, "in that case, one should unlock Guantanamo, arm all of its inmates and bring them to Syria to do the fighting."Continue »
(CBS News) BEIJING - In answer to a question from CBS News as to whether China and the U.S. have come to any agreement on how to end the violence in Syria, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton could only reiterate Wednesday that the U.S. was "disappointed" by China's blockage of tougher action by the United Nations Security Council.
Standing in the Great Hall of the People with the Chinese Foreign Minister by her side, Clinton called the situation in Syria "a threat to peace and stability in the entire region, and the longer the conflict goes on, the greater the risk that it spills over borders and destabilizes neighboring countries."
China continues to oppose outside intervention in Syria, along with Russia, but insists it is not taking sides with either "party" in the civil war - President Bashar Assad's government or the opposition.
Opposition activists say the Assad regime's brutal tactics in the lopsided war have left more than 20,000 people dead since it began more than 17 months ago.
Clinton said the U.S. and China do not see "eye-to-eye" on human rights issues.
"Like many countries, we support a period of political transition in Syria," said Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi. "At the same time, we believe that any solution should come from the Syrian people and reflect their interests. It should not be imposed from outside."
America's top diplomat met Chinese President Hu Jintao Wednesday morning before the news conference with Yang, but her scheduled afternoon meeting with Vice President Xi Jinping - expected to become president this fall - was cancelled without warning or explanation by the Chinese. They cited "unexpected scheduling issues." Clinton met instead with Vice Premier Li Keqiang who is widely expected to succeed Wen Jiaboa as China's next Premier.
Secretary Clinton arrived in Beijing this week greeted by barbs in the national press and an obstinate Chinese government.
The Communist Party's flagship paper ran a headline referring to Clinton as a "figure who deeply exacerbates U.S.-China mutual distrust," while the state-controlled Xinhua news agency ran an article calling for the U.S. to "stop its role as a sneaky troublemaker sitting behind some nations in the region and pulling strings" - a reference to U.S. backing for China's neighbors in ongoing territorial disputes with Beijing.
Clinton's trip failed to deliver any breakthrough on the disputes over the South China Sea islands and the oil-rich waterways around them which are claimed by China and other nations including Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam and Brunei.
The area in dispute holds an estimated 33 billion tons of oil, and is a transit point for more than $1.2 trillion in U.S. trade.
After meeting Hu, Yang and other officials, Clinton left Beijing with statements of "mutual respect" from Chinese government officials, and an agreement to continue to disagree as the two nations learn, "to manage our differences."CBS News State Department correspondent Margaret Brennan is traveling with Secretary Clinton in Asia. This story was edited by CBSNews.com foreign editor Tucker Reals.
(CBS News) LONDON - Former CIA director Michael Hayden has told an Israeli newspaper that the Jewish state is not capable of carrying out and sustaining military action against Iran's nuclear sites without U.S. support, and that there is still time before a decision on any such strike needs to be made.
"I do not underestimate the Israeli talent, but geometry and physics tell us that Iran's nuclear program would pose a difficult challenge to any military," Hayden told the widely-circulated Haaretz daily in an interview published Tuesday, adding that, "Israel's resources are more limited than those of the U.S."
"There is no absolute certainty that all targets are known," he told the paper, suggesting that Iran's alleged efforts to conceal a nuclear weapons program may be outwitting even the world's most advanced espionage agencies.
He reiterated previous comments by American officials who have said a single bombing raid would not be able to inflict significant damage on Iran's heavily-fortified nuclear sites. "They will have to be revisited - which only the U.S. Air Force would be able to do."Continue »
(CBS News) LONDON - Israel's defense chief suggested Thursday that the U.S. has new intelligence that changes the American assessment of the imminent danger represented by Iran's clandestine nuclear work, bringing its views closer to those held by the Jewish state.
An article published Thursday by the Haaretz newspaper said Defense Minister Ehud Barak had "confirmed" the paper's earlier report that Mr. Obama had received a new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) "which shares Israel's view that Iran has made surprising, significant progress toward military nuclear capability."
Speaking later to Israeli Radio, Barak was not as definitive, but said there is "apparently a report by American intelligence agencies - I don't know if it's under the title NIE or under another title - which is making the rounds of high offices," in Washington that makes the American government's concerns more urgent.
"As far as we know, it comes very close to our own estimate, I would say, as opposed to earlier American estimates. It transforms the Iranian situation to an even more urgent one and it is even less likely that we will know every development in time on the Iranian nuclear program," Barak said.
CBS News is seeking clarification on the latest U.S. intelligence assessments on Iran's nuclear program. The Obama administration has said nothing publicly about a change in their overall assessment of the risk currently posed by Iran.Continue »
(CBS NEWS) ISLAMABAD - Pakistan will press the U.S. at a top-level intelligence summit this week to end unilateral drone strikes aimed at suspected militants along the Afghan-Pakistan border.
Though the Thursday meeting in Washington between Lt. Gen. Zaheerul Islam, head of Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, and CIA chief Gen. David Petraeus is meant to ease the tension between the two allies, Pakistani and Western officials warn the issue of drone strikes may yield little common ground.
"This is a very difficult issue which will continue to vitiate the atmosphere," a senior Western diplomat in Islamabad tells CBS News on condition of anonymity.Continue »
(CBS News) ULAN BATAAR, Mongolia - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised Mongolia as a model of democracy during a fleeting visit Monday to the mineral-rich, former socialist nation situated between China and Russia.
The country is the only post-socialist democracy in Asia. The secretary also criticized China's model of economic growth without political liberalization.
Without calling out China by name, Clinton used the platform of an International Women's Forum to speak about the need for Asian countries to expand human rights.
"You can't have economic liberalization without political liberalization," said Clinton. "Countries that want to be open for business but closed to free expression will find that this approach comes at a cost."Continue »
(CBS News) NEW YORK - The al Qaeda operative known as Abu Zubaydah, the longest-held "high value" detainee currently incarcerated at the U.S. military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is asking the government to please bring charges against him.
"It appears to us as though they have resolved in their mind the desirability of just leaving him there and forgetting about him," Joseph Marguiles, his defense attorney, told CBS NEWS in a telephone interview.
Seeking an end to Zubaydah's legal limbo, Margulies, a professor at Northwestern University School of Law, in Chicago, has written a letter to the convening authority for the military commissions at Guantanamo asking for proceedings to begin "at the earliest possible date."
"Come on let's go. Call you first witness," Margulies said in the interview. "He's just on anyone's radar anymore."Continue »
(CBS News) In June 2009, U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl was captured in Paktika Province, eastern Afghanistan, by men loyal to the Haqqani Network, a militant group based across the border in North Waziristan, Pakistan.
The Haqqani network is tied to, but not directly under the control of, Mullah Muhammad Omar, leader of the Afghan Taliban.
Bergdahl would have been taken away quickly on narrow paths through steep, rolling mountains and pine forests, through valleys, past small villages, and then down across the unmarked border into Pakistan.
The patriarch of the Haqqani Network is Jalaladin Haqqani, who was a U.S. ally in the 1980s, when America supplied his militants with billions of dollars in weaponry to fight the Soviet Union - then a common enemy which had invaded Afghanistan.
Bergdahl's parents, afraid of the Taliban, of the drone warfare in the tribal areas, and frustrated because they don't feel the U.S. is doing enough to try to free their son, have given their first interviews to newspapers, in a move aimed at putting pressure on the Obama administration.Continue »
(CBS News) ISLAMABAD - U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter will leave his post this summer, ending his tenure after just two years - a year less than the typical ambassadorship - as tension between the two nations lingers.
"It's a personal decision" U.S. Embassy spokesman Mark Stroh tells CBS News. "It's not because either the Pakistani government or the U.S. government is dissatisfied with his performance."
While the Pakistani foreign ministry says a successor has yet to be formally named, an official at the ministry says Pakistani authorities have been informally told that a senior diplomat from the U.S. Embassy in neighboring Afghanistan will likely take the position.
"We understand that Richard Olson, who is a senior U.S. diplomat in Kabul and is looking after U.S. aid and economy related matters, is being actively considered for the job," added the Pakistani foreign ministry official.Continue »
At the upcoming Summit of the Americas on April 14 and 15, it appears a new crop of Latin American leaders may press the Obama administration for an open and new kind of discussion on the war on drugs.
Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina reflected the new tone among many in Latin America on the drug war in a recent op-ed for the Guardian: "Knowing that drugs are bad for human beings is not a compelling reason for advocating their prohibition. Actually, the prohibition paradigm that inspires mainstream global drug policy today is based on a false premise: that the global drug markets can be eradicated. We would not believe such a statement if it were applied to alcoholism or tobacco addiction, but somehow we assume it's right in the case of drugs. Why?"Continue »
(CBS News) UNITED NATIONS -- At the same time that new assaults are being launched against cities in Syria by the government, U.N.-Arab League Special Envoy Kofi Annan tried to reassure the General Assembly that his peace plan was not functioning as a pretext for the Assad regime in Syria to buy time or to defeat the opposition. Many in the U.N. have come to see the Syrian conflict as an internationalized battle - a proxy war - between Russia and Iran on one side and the U.S. and the Gulf states on the other.
A still-divided U.N. Security Council adopted a non-enforceable Presidential Statement to bolster Annan just before he briefed the General Assembly.
With the deadline one week away for the cessation of all violence, at the U.N., diplomacy is decreasing and violence increasing ahead of the deadline. Despite the fact that Syria's Assad said that the government would begin to withdraw troops from population centers, the Syrian army shelled a suburb of Damascus and continued their assault on Homs.Continue »
Drones have become the favorite weapon system of the Obama administration, currently in use in several countries around the world by both intelligence services and the military. Be it for spying or killing, drones keep pilots safe thousands of miles away as they spend sometimes days in the air. Now imagine if drones could spend months in the air.
Just as nuclear energy is used to keep submarines and ships at sea for months on end, plans have been drawn up to give drones a similar capability in the skies, the Guardian reports. Sandia National Laboratories and Northrup Grumman developed blueprints that would not just give drones an incredible extended range, but also more power for onboard surveillance, communications, and weapons.
Despite years of development, the project has been shelved for now, according to Wired's Danger Room blog.Continue »
The general said the timetable for the U.S. and NATO combat forces withdrawal from Afghanistan is "right on track."
Watch the video and left and see more on "CBS Evening News" tonight.
(CBS News) -- The bizarre story of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and the burning man on the tarmac in Afghanistan has taken another strange turn: a heroic military dog was involved.
For those who've missed this strange but true story, here's a recap: as Panetta landed at Camp Bastion in southwest Afghanistan Wednesday, his plane was diverted to a different runway because of a security incident. Pentagon officials say an Afghan interpreter who worked at the base hijacked a pickup truck, tried (and failed) to run over a group of Marines stationed near Panetta's intended destination on the runway, and drove into a ditch.Continue »
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