Washington (CNN) – With his "change" agenda bogged down at home, what hope is there for President Obama's international agenda?
Over the past several months, the Obama administration has faced a number of issues: costly wars in Afghanistan and Iraq; an economy still reeling; health care reform negotiations stalled; and a Republican political upset in Massachusetts that torpedoed the Senate Democratic supermajority.
"When American presidents get weak at home, it really does affect their ability to act abroad," said Doug Paal with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
In his first year, Obama visited 21 countries. His mantra: Engagement - even with your enemies.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said she sees "a lot of positive trends."
"It's almost hard to remember how poorly much of the world viewed the United States when President Obama came into office," she added.
But the scorecard so far is mixed.
.Hundreds of people, some with U.S. passports, lined up outside the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince last week.(Photo Credit: Getty Images/File)
Washington (CNN) – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Monday the Obama administration is "looking at" the idea of allowing more legal immigration to the U.S. from Haiti.
Speaking to reporters at the State Department before departing to Montreal, Quebec, for a conference on international relief efforts for Haiti, Clinton said, "We are looking at every option that can provide a better future for the Haitian people."
Asked about the secretary's comments, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters, "There is a cap, you know, levied on the number that can travel to the United States from Haiti. And that is something that we'll be ... working with a variety of interest groups on as we go forth."
Some Haiti experts and non-governmental organizations say that allowing more legal immigration from Haiti would relieve some of the burden of providing earthquake relief efforts on the island.
The Obama administration, after the earthquake, allowed Haitians currently in the United States illegally to apply for temporary protected status for 18 months. That would allow them to work and send cash remittances back to help their families in Haiti.
Clinton, along with foreign ministers, major donors and regional and multilateral partners, was going to Montreal for a Monday's one-day Ministerial Preparatory Conference of the Group of Friends of Haiti.
Updated: 3:42 p.m.
Washington (CNN) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday she is "of course" not satisfied with the pace at which relief supplies and personnel are getting into Haiti, but added she is "aware of the difficulties" involved.
"There were so many challenges that had to be addressed all at once" after the earthquake that it is "really remarkable how much we've gotten done," she said as she answered reporters' questions at the State Department.
Washington (CNN) – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Friday that violence is rising in Sudan, where human suffering in Darfur continues "on a mass scale."
Speaking on the fifth anniversary of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, Clinton said Sudan is "at a critical juncture." While the ceasefire between the Sudanese government and the main rebel group has mostly held, "threats to progress are real," she said.
"The parties in Sudan have a choice," Clinton said. "They can revert back to a dark era of conflict or they can move forward together toward a lasting peace."
In April, Sudan will hold its first national elections in 24 years. Less than a year later the people of southern Sudan will vote on whether to break off and form an independent country.
Clinton called on all parties to work to ensure that those elections take place "on time with their outcomes respected." She said Norway and Britain have pledged to cooperate with the United States in achieving the goal.
Washington (CNN) - To understand how the suspect in the botched terror attack was able to board a plane, you have to understand how the counterterrorism system that President Obama says failed is supposed to work.
The president says the clues were there, and that a fuller, clearer picture of 23-year-old Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab would have emerged if all the bits and pieces had been shared and put together.
"The warning signs would have triggered red flags, and the suspect would have never been allowed to board that plane for America," Obama said.
The president has ordered a top-to-bottom investigation of the failed terrorist attack on Christmas Day. The preliminary report is expected Thursday.
One of the key questions is why wasn't the suspect's visa revoked.
Washington (CNN) – President Barack Obama wrote a personal letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong Il that a U.S. envoy delivered, a senior U.S. official said.
Stephen Bosworth, U.S. special envoy for North Korea, delivered the letter to the North Korean leader during a three-day visit to North Korea last week, the official said.
The official declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue.
Washington (CNN) - The Obama administration's first high-level direct talks with North Korea yielded no promise by Pyongyang to return to Six- Party negotiations aimed at ending its nuclear program, but Secretary of State Hillary Clinton nonetheless Thursday called the meeting "quite positive."
Asked about the three-day visit to North Korea by special envoy Stephen Bosworth, Clinton told reporters, "I think for a preliminary meeting it was quite positive."
Clinton said she agreed with Ambassador Bosworth that the talks were "very useful" and added: "It does remain to be seen whether and when the North Koreans will return to the Six-Party talks but the bottom line is that these were exploratory talks, not negotiations."
Clinton said the talks "were intended to do exactly what they did: reaffirm the commitment of the United States to the Six-Party process, to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, and to discuss with the North Koreans their reactions to what we are asking them to do in order to move forward."
Washington (CNN) - As President Obama prepared to explain his military strategy for Afghanistan Tuesday, his secretary of state said U.S. civilian efforts are just as critical to successfully getting Afghanistan back on its feet.
At the same time, a diplomatic source says the United States is pushing for an international "special coordinator" to work in parallel with the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
Speaking Monday in New York to the Business Executives for National Security Gala, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Washington's "goals in Afghanistan include providing the government with the support that it needs to take full responsibility for its own country.
"That makes civilian efforts as vital as military operations and of longer duration," she said. "We have begun to elevate diplomacy and development alongside defense in our national security strategy, and we are certainly engaged in doing so in Afghanistan."
Clinton described the work of the State Department, USAID and other government agencies deployed in Afghanistan. She said experts from the U.S. Department of Agriculture are embedded with the U.S. military and "rule of law" experts are working to extend a system of justice "so that the Taliban would not offer the only form of justice in Afghanistan."
The State Department says it is tripling the number of civilian staff deployed to Afghanistan, and plans to have 974 staff members there by early 2010.
Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama will nominate Dr. Rajiv Shah to fill the long-vacant position as head the U.S. Agency for International Development, a senior administration official confirmed to CNN Tuesday. The official spoke on background because a public announcement has not yet been made.
Shah, a physician and former executive with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is currently under-secretary for research, education and economics, and chief scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He manages the Agricultural Research Service, the Economic Research Service, the National Agricultural Statistical Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
The official described Shah as leader in global development with "deep experience" in health, agriculture, water and financial services.
At the Gates Foundation, Shah helped launch the Global Development program and directly managed the foundation's nearly $1.3 billion portfolio of investments in agricultural development. He also was the founding director of the foundation's Financial Services to the Poor portfolio, and held numerous leadership roles within the Foundation Global Health program.
Shah, the official said, also helped lead, and is an important contributor to, Obama's global food security initiative.
According to the official, at the Agriculture Department Shah manages more than 10,000 federal employees and a budget of more than $2.6 billion, working with Congress, the State Department, the White House and the international development community on issues such as health and nutrition, bio-energy and climate change.
MARRAKESH, Morocco (CNN) – Two days after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton angered Palestinian leaders by praising Israel for what she called "unprecedented" steps to limit - but not fully halt - the construction of Jewish settlements, she clarified her remarks.
Reading Monday from a prepared statement, Clinton said, "They (the Israelis) will build no new settlements, expropriate no new land, allow no new construction or approvals. And let me just say, this offer falls far short of our position or what our preference would be. But if it is acted upon it will be unprecedented restrictions on settlements and would have a significant effect upon restraining their growth."
For months, the Obama administration has insisted that Israel freeze all new settlement construction. In May, Clinton said President Barack Obama "wants to see a stop to settlements. Not some settlements, not outposts, not natural growth exceptions."
But on Saturday, standing beside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, Clinton praised him for simply slowing settlement