• NATO soldiers board a helicopter after a security handover ceremony outside Kabul, June 18, 2013. (Omar Sobhani/Reuters)

    President Barack Obama warmly welcomed the announcement on Tuesday of fresh reconciliation talks between Afghanistan's government and the Taliban, as well as plans to launch a new round of direct negotiations between the insurgent force and the United States.

    U.S. officials said one of the likely items on the U.S.-Taliban agenda would be the return of U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, held captive by the Taliban-allied Haqqani network since 2009.

    "This is an important first step toward reconciliation," Obama told reporters after a meeting with French President François Hollande on the sidelines of the G-8 summit of rich countries. "It's a very early step—we anticipate there will be a lot of bumps in the road—but the fact that the parties have an opportunity to talk and discuss Afghanistan's future I think is very important."

    U.S. and Taliban negotiators will hold formal talks "in a couple of days" in the Gulf state of Qatar, where the Taliban will officially open an office on Tuesday,

    Read More »from Obama welcomes Taliban’s return to reconciliation talks, U.S. negotiations
  • House GOP Conference chair Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

    In the midst of negotiations in Congress over an immigration overhaul, House Republicans are planning a series of meetings with Hispanic-Americans in the nation's capital as part of a partywide effort to woo minority voters.

    The House Republican Conference, chaired by Washington Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, is planning four meetup sessions between Hispanic-Americans and Republican lawmakers at the Capitol Building this summer.

    “It’s important that we’re having this two-way conversation and hearing the ideas and concerns from a broad base of people from around the country," McMorris Rodgers told Yahoo News in an interview. “More than anything we want them to know that we want to have this relationship with them. ... It’s our effort to build relationships with people all around the country to talk to them about issues that impact their daily lives.”

    The conference plans to host the first meeting on Wednesday with Hispanic faith leaders; two meetings on July 18, one with women and the

    Read More »from House GOP to host meetups with Hispanic voters in D.C. as part of outreach effort
  • Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker (Eduardo Munoz/Reuters)Newark Mayor Cory Booker, a top contender for New Jersey's vacant Senate seat, joined a panel of urban policy experts on Monday night to discuss national politics and local problem-solving.

    George Stephanopoulos, the ABC news analyst and former adviser to President Bill Clinton, moderated the discussion at New York's 92nd Street Y. It was one of Booker's first major public outings since announcing his candidacy to succeed Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who died earlier this month.

    “Why run for Senate?” Stephanopoulos asked Booker, a Democrat in his second term in the mayor's office. “What can you do in Washington?”

    “We need to get more folks in Washington to start changing that spirit to get back to a way of thinking that’s not this short-term, heavily partisan, zero-sum-game politics," Booker said.

    The Senate hopeful also talked about using his candidacy to bring a national focus to poverty, one of the major topics of the evening.

    “One of the reasons why I want to go to the U.S.

    Read More »from Cory Booker talks urban policy, Senate run


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