Updated 2:51 p.m. ET, 12/10/13
(CNN) - Arriving on stage at FNB stadium in Johannesburg to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela, President Barack Obama shook hands with dozens of other world leaders, pausing briefly to grasp the hand of Cuban President Raul Castro.
The greeting quickly sparked a strong debate on Twitter between those who praised and disagreed with the handshake, given that the United States does not share diplomatic relations with Cuba.
Updated 8:33 p.m. ET, 11/12/2013
(CNN) - In a private ceremony Tuesday afternoon at the State Department, Caroline Kennedy was sworn in by Secretary of State John Kerry as U.S. ambassador to Japan.
The event was closed to media, but the State Department released a photo showing a smiling Kennedy dressed in a simple black dress, her right hand raised, her left resting on what looked like a Bible held by her husband, Edwin Schlossberg. Nearby, their son John "Jack" Schlossberg looked on, wearing a dark suit, hands in pockets, his shock of dark hair an uncanny reminder of his deceased uncle, John Kennedy Jr., Caroline's brother.
(CNN) - For Americans applying for a passport, or citizens of other countries trying to get a visa to the United States, the current government shutdown won't have any effect, the State Department says.
The State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development are "national security agencies," which means they have national security responsibilities such as representing the United States overseas and representing to Americans what the country's foreign interests are.FULL STORY
Washington (CNN) - Four State Department employees who were put on administrative leave after last year's attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, will be reassigned inside the department, a senior State Department official told CNN on Tuesday.
The four were placed on leave last December by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton after the September 11 attack that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.FULL STORY
(CNN) - Teresa Heinz Kerry, wife of Secretary of State John Kerry, became ill Sunday and was taken by ambulance to a Massachusetts hospital, said a source close to the family.
Heinz Kerry, 74, was in Nantucket, where the family has a home.FULL STORY
(CNN) - President Barack Obama will appoint Washington, D.C. lawyer Clifford Sloan to re-open the State Department's Office of Guantanamo Closure, according to a senior administration official.
The administration’s efforts to shut down the detention facility have been stalled since January, when the State Department shuttered the office tasked with handling the closure, and reassigned its special envoy.
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (CNN) - Secretary of State John Kerry spoke about Syria, Iran and North Korea in an interview Tuesday with CNN as he wraps up his first international trip as the nation's top diplomat.
On Syria, Kerry declined to say that the United States would never arm the rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad's government, but said President Barack Obama believes the current strategy of leaving it to other countries to arm the rebels is currently the right choice.
(CNN) - John Kerry's first international trip as secretary of state is right out of diplomatic "central casting" - at least the first half, designed to avoid diplomatic pitfalls. But that may end up being impossible.
The 11-day, nine-country sojourn - to England, Germany, France, Italy, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar - begins with a warm embrace for America's traditional European allies.FULL STORY
Washington (CNN) - John Kerry, the new secretary of state, jokingly calls himself a "recovering politician."
After 28 years in the Senate, he now finds himself "sort of walking a new line," as he says, not allowed to mix politics with international policy.FULL STORY
Washington (CNN) - Secretary of State John Kerry has asked his "old communicator and colleague," Jen Psaki, to be his chief spokeswoman, a senior agency official confirmed Wednesday.
Psaki is only in her 30s but she is an old hand at Democratic message-shaping. She worked with then-Senator Kerry on his 2004 presidential election bid and was President Barack Obama's deputy communications director.