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Foreign Policy

The Takeaway

President Obama in Mexico

Friday, April 17, 2009

President Obama landed in Mexico City yesterday, pledging his support to help President Calderon and the Mexican government in its fight against the drug cartels that have ravaged the country. The outburst of crime, turf wars and shootouts killed over 6,000 people last year. Though drug violence tops the agenda, Presidents Obama and Calderon will also discuss energy, the economy and immigration. Later today President Obama will continue the conversation when he heads to Trinidad and Tobago for the Summit of the Americas. For a look at how President Obama’s visit to our northern neighbor is defining U.S. foreign policy we are joined by Andres Martinez. He is the Director of the Bernard L. Schwartz Fellows Program for the New America Foundation.

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The Takeaway

North Africa and peace in the Middle East

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Former Maine Senator George Mitchell was appointed by President Obama to serve as Special Envoy for Middle East Peace in January. Since then he’s visited Israel, the West Bank, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia. Filling his dance card with the rest of the Arab world, he’s now traveling in the North African countries of Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. But the role of these countries in the Middle East peace process is not well known. I. William Zartman, Professor Emeritus at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, joins The Takeaway with some history and an analysis.

Fore more information on George Mitchell's upcoming visit to the Middle East, watch the video below.

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The Takeaway

Viva la family visit: Obama lifts some restrictions on Cuba travel

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

President Obama has lifted restrictions on travel and remittances for Cuban-Americans who wish to visit family or send money to their kin in Cuba. The Takeaway talks to Michael Voss, BBC correspondent in Havana and Joshua Johnson a reporter and anchor with WLRN, Miami Herald News, who has been covering the story from South Florida.
"This is a policy that was installed by Kennedy in the '60s, lifted the travel restrictions by Carter in the '70s, reinstalled by Reagan in the '80s, modified by Clinton '90s and tightened by George W. Bush in 2000. So depending on when you came up, your view is going to be different."
—Joshua Johnson of WLRN Miami Herald News on travel restrictions to Cuba

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The Takeaway

In the wake of bombings, America still hopes for withdrawal from Iraq

Monday, April 13, 2009

Yesterday a roadside bomb killed an American serviceman north of Baghdad. And on Friday, five U.S. soldiers were killed by a suicide bomber in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, which is the largest number of U.S. troops to die in a single incident in many months. In the midst of the tentative peace that has been become almost normal in Iraq, these bombings are violent reminders that Iraq is still a treacherous place. In the wake of this violent display, is President Obama's timetable for American withdrawal still realistic? Joining The Takeaway is David Phillips, a former member of the State Department’s “Future of Iraq” project and now at the Atlantic Council and Jim Muir from the BBC joins us from Baghdad, Iraq.
"It's important to recognize that in both Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States is not going to achieve a so-called victory. At best we're going to be able to create an end-state that's reasonably stable and that can justify the draw-down of U.S. troops."
—David Phillips, former member of the State Department's "Future of Iraq" on Obama's proposed withdrawal

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The Takeaway

U.S. offers to attend direct talks with Iran

Thursday, April 09, 2009

The delicate strategic dance between the Obama administration and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad continues: The U.S. has offered to attend direct talks with Iran aimed at resolving an ongoing dispute over Iran's nuclear program. But why now? The answer may be more complex than you think. The Takeaway talks to Gary Sick, a senior research scholar at Columbia University. Also joining the conversation is Trita Parsi, author of Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Iran, Israel and the United States and President of the National Iranian American Council and President of the National Iranian American Council.

"They're not reducing Iran into a one issue country. It's not just about the nuclear issue. It's obviously a very important part of it, but they're not going to view Iran only through that prism."
—Author Trita Parsi on U.S. discussions with Iran

Here is CNN's report on opening lines of communications between the two countries:

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The Takeaway

President Obama revitalizes ties with Turkey during two-day tour

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

It is the second full day of President Obama's visit to Turkey, the last stop on an eight-day European tour that included stops at the G-20 summit and the NATO 60th anniversary meeting. He is wrapping up his visit with an appeal to Turkish youth a town hall-style meeting. But arguably the most important thing President Obama did on his trip was his visit to the Blue Mosque in Istanbul today. The Blue Mosque is of huge symbolic value and religious importance to the Islamic world, having survived for through hundreds of years of upheaval in the region. His visit to Turkey is seen as an attempt to renew a flagging relationship with an important Islamic ally, so what does President Obama's action symbolize? We go to Istanbul for the answer with Turkish journalist, Mithat Bereket, formerly of CNN Turkey who is now on Pusula-TV, a private television station.

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The Takeaway

Last stop Ankara: President Obama ends his European tour in Turkey

Monday, April 06, 2009

As the last stop on his first Presidential tour of Europe, President Obama heads to Turkey. This visit is seen as another step towards engagement of the Muslim world. Turkey was once a strong strategic ally of the U.S., but the relationship has drifted in the last few years. This trip to Ankara is seen as a move to renew the partnership. For more, we turn to Dr. Gulnur Aybet, a specialist on Turkey at the University of Kent in England to discuss the President's visit and his efforts to reach out to Muslims in Turkey and around the world.

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The Takeaway

This week's agenda: Foreign policy, the economy and the globe-hopping President

Monday, April 06, 2009

It's Monday and that means its time for us to gaze into our crystal ball for a look at the week ahead. We’ve got predictions on some key foreign and domestic policy issues and the latest on President Obama’s globetrotting. And we’ll tell you which economic numbers you’ll need to keep your eyes on. The Takeaway is talking to Marcus Mabry, international business editor at our partner the New York Times, and Cynthia Gordy, Washington correspondent for Essence.

"If you anchor this Muslim nation into Europe that says, more than anything else, that we in the West are, in fact, as open to Muslim nations as we are to other nations."
—New York Times International Business Editor Marcus Mabry on President Obama's calling for Turkey's inclusion in the E.U.

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The Takeaway

Pakistani relations from the CIA point of view

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Monday's attack on a police academy in Lahore, Pakistan revealed the continuing security problems that Pakistan faces. As President Obama reimagines our engagement with Pakistan, Afghanistan and the entire region, we talk with Emile Nakhleh, former Senior Intelligence Officer and Director of the Political Islam Strategic Analysis Program in the CIA’s Directorate of Intelligence and author of A Necessary Engagement: Reinventing America’s Relations with the Muslim World.

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The Takeaway

Marking the 30th anniversary of the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Thirty years ago today Egypt and Israel brokered a historic peace treaty, ending three decades of war. When Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin shook hands with Egypt’s president Anwar el-Sadat on the White House lawn, it marked a new era for the Middle East. But has the peace deal fallen short of its initial expectations? Joining us to mark this moment, and to assess Middle-East peace in the 21st century is Martin Indyk. He’s the former U.S. ambassador to Israel and Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs during the Clinton administration. He’s currently the director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. He has a new book out; it’s called Innocent Abroad: An Intimate Account of American Peace Diplomacy in the Middle East.

Here's clip that looks back on the historic peace accords. This movie is part of an exhibition that is taking place in the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem.

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The Takeaway

President Obama speaks to the people of Iran

Friday, March 20, 2009

President Obama made a direct appeal to the people of Iran last night. It's an attempt to end 30 years of distrust between Washington and Tehran. The Takeaway breaks down what this means for the relationship between the two countries with Zadeq Zibakalam, political science professor at Tehran University.

"For the first time we have a U.S. president which actually hasn't tried to separate between Iranian on the one hand and Islamic regime on the other. That in itself is a new development."
— Sadeq Zibakalamn, political science professor at Tehran University, on Obama's Nowruz address to Iran


Watch President Obama's Nowruz message to the Iranian people below.

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The Takeaway

Seeking a solution, Sharia law in Pakistan causes problems

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

In an attempt to quell the fighting with Taliban militants, the government in Pakistan's embattled Swat Valley has agreed to allow the extremely conservative Sharia religious law to become the law of the land. When former Army Supply Sergeant Kristen L. Rouse heard that news she was very concerned. As someone who had served along the Afghan border and seen the brutality of the Taliban against people, even children, who violate the religious strictures she decided to speak out and write a letter to the New York Times. She joins us now as does Christine Fair, a senior political scientist at The Rand Corporation and an expert in Pakistan security issues, to discuss the latest developments in the Swat Valley.

Read Kristen L. Rouse's Op-Ed piece, The Children of Asadabad in today's New York Times.

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The Takeaway

Afghanistan: To leave or not to leave

Friday, March 13, 2009

First Lady Michelle Obama visited Fort Bragg in North Carolina yesterday and asked people to embrace the military families in their communities. With an expected surge in U.S. forces to Afghanistan later this year—approximately 17,000 new troops will be deployed there—her message comes at an important time.

In the op-ed piece, How to Leave Afghanistan from the New York Times, Leslie H. Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, D.C. says the U.S. should pull out of Afghanistan altogether.

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The Takeaway

Obama Administration to ease restrictions towards policies with Cuba

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The U.S. Senate voted to lift some restrictions on relations with Cuba imposed by the Bush Administration in 2004. It says that Cuban Americans should be allowed to travel to the Communist island once a year and send more money to relatives there. The Senate has also agreed that restrictions on sending food and medicines to Cuba should also be eased. President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law later today.
BBC America Editor Americo Martins joins The Takeaway to discuss what this means for the U.S. and Cuba.

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The Takeaway

Looking over 50 years after the Tibetan uprising

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Today is the fiftieth anniversary of the Tibetan uprising that forced the Dalai Lama into exile. Last year’s anniversary was marked by riots and protests, but this year, the Chinese government cracked down on any potential political unrest. The Takeaway talks to Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times about the future of Tibet and what the role the U.S. can play in resolving the conflict between China and Tibet.

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The Takeaway

Clinton announces two new envoys to Syria

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

During her first trip to the Middle East as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton announced yesterday that the U.S. will be sending two high-level envoys to Syria. This is the latest sign that the Obama administration is willing to engage Damascus on issues of regional and international concern. The two envoys are Jeffrey Feltman (acting assistant secretary of state) and Daniel Shapiro (a senior White House official). They may visit Syria today for "preliminary conversations". To learn what these new envoys will face, we are joined by Richard Murphy, former U.S. ambassador to Syria and former assistant secretary of state for the Near East.

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The Takeaway

In a secret letter Obama sought help from Russia on Iran

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Last month, President Obama sent a secret hand-delivered letter to Russia's President Dmitri Medvedev. It was an offer: the U.S. would back off from deploying a new missile defense system in Eastern Europe, if Moscow would help deter Iran from developing long-range weapons. Moscow has not responded to the letter, but many people see this as an effort to reset the relationship between the U.S. and Russia. New York Times reporter Peter Baker wrote a front page story on this and he joins us now.

For more, read Peter Baker's article, Obama Offered Deal to Russia in Secret Letter in today's New York Times.

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The Takeaway

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown heads to his Obama photo op

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown begins an official visit to the United States today. He’ll be the first European leader to meet President Obama in the White House. And on the agenda — you guessed it —the global financial crisis. Joining The Takeaway to tell us what Britain’s embattled Prime Minister will be saying to our new President is Philip Stephens, Associate Editor of the Financial Times.

For more from Philip Stephen's, read his article on Gordon Brown's U.S. visit, The way to reset a once-special relationship in today's Financial Times.

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The Takeaway

Pakistan's foreign minister visits Washington

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

In his address last night, President Obama mentioned the need to forge a new strategy in Pakistan. This statement came while the foreign ministers of both Pakistan and Afghanistan are in Washington this week to meet with officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi says that his country and Afghanistan have achieved a new level of trust that will help them work together to combat cross-border attacks. For what this might mean for the U.S. role in Pakistan and Afghanistan we turn to Owen Bennett-Jones, host of BBC Newshour and former Islamabad correspondent.

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The Takeaway

Japanese Prime Minister becomes first official visitor to the Obama White House

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Yesterday, President Obama welcomed Japanese prime minister Taro Aso to the White House. This meeting came hot on the heels of Secretary of State Clinton making Japan the first stop on her first official trip overseas. While Japan has been a close ally of the United States for decades, why is the Obama administration stressing the relationship now? Bill Emmott, former editor of The Economist and chronicler of post-war Japan, joins us to help answer that question.

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