By Andrew Levine
The U.S. military will have up to two warships and several large transport aircraft on standby under a contingency plan to help evacuate American officials and athletes during the Sochi Olympics if ordered, a U.S. official with direct knowledge of the plan told CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr.
The official said the State Department would take the lead in organizing and evacuating Americans. The official declined to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the information.
The official emphasized the Russian government would have to give its approval for U.S. assets to enter Russia.
The ships and planes are “just in case the Russians ask for help,” the official said. But the assets, he said, are clearly there “if something happens like a major terrorist attack and we need to get Americans out.”
The plan calls for the warships to enter the Black Sea in the next few days. In a crisis the ships’ helicopters could fly quickly to Sochi and begin evacuating American officials. C-17 aircraft being put on standby in Germany could be on the scene in about two hours for additional evacuations. Other aircraft contracted to the State Department would also play a role.
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By Josh Gerstein
President Barack Obama’s much-touted pivot to Asia — a foreign policy drive which has languished recently amidst a lack of high-level direction — could be reinvigorated by Vice President Joe Biden, analysts said.
The pivot to Asia was a central foreign policy theme of Obama’s first term, underscoring a need many policymakers saw for the United States to shift its diplomatic, security and economic attentions from the traditional focus on Europe and the Middle East to the rising powers in the Pacific — most notably, China. [EXCERPT]
Got a question for President Obama? Now is your chance to ask him.
Hardball host Chris Matthews will sit down for a Q&A with the commander-in-chief on Thursday at American University in Washington, D.C. During the town hall-style interview, Obama will also answer students’ questions, in addition to some of yours, via the official “Let’s Play Hardball” group on msnbc.com.
Obama’s interview with Matthews comes following the rocky rollout of HealthCare.gov, an interim nucleardeal with Iran, renewed calls for immigration reform, and with new budget negotiations on the horizon.
Matthews will discuss a number of topics with Obama, including voter suppression, healthcare, political gridlock in D.C., growing dissatisfaction with the government and more. The interview will air on Thursday evening’s Hardball at 7 p.m. ET.
By Ann Curry
GENEVA – Secretary of State John Kerry and leaders from five other world powers early Sunday reached a nuclear deal with Iran, following intense negotiations that took place over several days in Geneva.
The deal represents a historic breakthrough in the world’s decade-long nuclear standoff with Iran, and in the 35-year-long diplomatic freeze between Iran and the United States.
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