Friday, February 23, 2018
News Roundup

U.S. assails Israeli's peace comment

Italy

U.S. assails Israeli's peace comment

The U.S. State Department responded with unusual sharpness Tuesday to remarks by Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, who characterized Secretary of State John Kerry's efforts to shepherd Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations as "misplaced obsession and messianic fervor."

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, traveling with Kerry on a visit to the Vatican, said the remarks, "if accurate, are offensive and inappropriate, especially given all that the United States is doing to support Israel's security needs." Adding that Kerry and others "have been working day and night to try to promote a secure peace for Israel," Psaki said that for Yaalon "to question (Kerry's) motives and distort his proposals is not something we would expect from the defense minister of a close ally."

Trenton, N.J.

'We let down the people,' Christie says

Republican Gov. Chris Christie, faced with a widening political scandal that threatens to undermine his second term and a possible 2016 presidential run, apologized again Tuesday, saying, "Mistakes were clearly made. And as a result, we let down the people we are entrusted to serve."

He opened his annual State of the State address by touching only briefly on the apparent political payback plot, involving road lane closures that caused major backups at the George Washington Bridge, one of the busiest bridges in the country.

Documents show Christie aides and appointees orchestrated the Fort Lee lane closings. Democrats believe the scheme was retaliation against the town's Democratic mayor, who didn't endorse Christie for re-election last year.

Elsewhere

Russia: The government said Tuesday it has barred a journalist for U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty from the country for five years over a visa infraction. David Satter, who has written several books on Russia, called it "bureaucratic trickery" to keep him out of the country.

Mexico: Soldiers and federal police kept a tense standoff with vigilantes Tuesday after a government campaign to stop violence in western Michoacan state led to clashes that left at least two people dead. The government is trying to halt fighting between the vigilantes and a drug cartel.

Thailand: Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra insisted Tuesday she wouldn't quit as protesters seeking her ouster blocked key roads in Bangkok for a second day, leaving the country's political crisis deadlocked.

Times wires

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