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Lawmakers bash Obama administration's 'delusional' Syria policy

By Patricia Zengerle WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. lawmakers lashed out at the Obama administration's handling of Syria's civil war on Wednesday, demanding a stronger American response to the conflict and better communication from the White House about its plans. Senator Robert Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, expressed deep frustration after Anne Patterson, the assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, declined to answer a question about strategy in a public setting.

Twitter ban widens rift between Turkey's leaders ahead of vote

It was arguably the strong partnership between Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul that tightened their party's grip on power over the past decade. But Erdogan's controversial ban on Twitter last week, as well as a vast corruption scandal that erupted late last year, has exposed a deep-seated rift between the two ahead of crucial local elections on March 30.

Erdogan defiant despite Gul hope Turkey will lift Twitter ban

Turkey's defiant Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched a fierce new attack on social media on Sunday, just hours after the president voiced hope the government would soon lift its controversial ban on Twitter. The conflicting comments from Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul underscore what appears to be a growing gulf between the two men just a week before crucial local elections.

Erdogan defiant despite Gul hope Turkey will lift Twitter ban

Turkey's defiant Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched a fierce new attack on social media on Sunday, just hours after the president voiced hope the government would soon lift its controversial ban on Twitter. The conflicting comments from Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul underscore what appears to be a growing gulf between the two men just a week before crucial local elections.

US presidential aide Robert Strauss dies at 95

Robert Strauss, a Washington insider and lobbyist who led the Democratic Party and advised presidents, died Wednesday. He was 95. His law firm Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, grieved the loss of a "colleague, mentor and friend." "To US leaders, he was a trusted counselor and an honest broker. And to those across the aisle or the table, he was a man of integrity who always sought common ground," it added. "His wisdom, judgment and foresight were matched only by his sense of humanity, and we are as diminished by his loss as we were enriched by his life."

US presidential aide Robert Strauss dies at 95

Robert Strauss, a Washington insider and lobbyist who led the Democratic Party and advised presidents, died Wednesday. He was 95. His law firm Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, grieved the loss of a "colleague, mentor and friend." "To US leaders, he was a trusted counselor and an honest broker. And to those across the aisle or the table, he was a man of integrity who always sought common ground," it added. "His wisdom, judgment and foresight were matched only by his sense of humanity, and we are as diminished by his loss as we were enriched by his life."

Turkish president contradicts Erdogan, dismissing foreign plot

By Humeyra Pamuk ANKARA (Reuters) - President Abdullah Gul has dismissed suggestions that outside forces are conspiring against Turkey, openly contradicting Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's assertions that a corruption scandal shaking the country is part of a foreign-backed plot. The graft inquiry swirling around Erdogan's government has grown into the biggest challenge of his 11-year-rule. He has repeatedly cast it as a scheme by political enemies at home and abroad to damage him ahead of March 30 local elections.

Obama, Xi to hold talks during nuclear summit in Hague

BEIJING, March 17 (Yonhap) -- The leaders of the United States and China will hold bilateral talks on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague next week, a senior Chinese official said Monday. U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to "exchange views on the China-U.S. relationship and other issues of concern," Vice Foreign Minister Li Baodong told reporters.

Obama says continues to hope for 'diplomatic solution' on Crimea

US President Barack Obama said Friday he continues to hope for a diplomatic solution on Crimea, but warned of "consequences" for Russia if none is found. The president spoke at the White House as Secretary of State John Kerry held last ditch talks in London with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov aimed at ending the crisis ahead of a referendum in Crimea on Sunday on leaving Ukraine and joining Russia. tq-col/sg

U.S. Senate committee to vote sanctions, aid to Ukraine

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee will vote on Wednesday on legislation addressing the Ukraine crisis that contains sanctions and IMF reforms, a senior member of the committee said. Senator Bob Corker, the top Republican on the committee, told reporters on Wednesday he expected the panel would pass the bill, sending it for a vote in the full Senate. He also said it contained aid for Ukraine and backing for a $1 billion loan guarantee.
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