Michele Kelemen

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In the dimly lit basement of what was once a soccer stadium in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa, CENTCOM commander Gen. Joseph L. Votel and Mark Green, the U.S. Agency for International Development administrator, walked through the rubble on Monday and listened to a U.S. military escort tell stories about what went on there when the city was under ISIS control.

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The Middle East is a region that is used to diplo-speak. When U.S. officials talk about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, they usually parse their words carefully. President Trump, though, is changing that, and it is causing confusion.

Last month, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley explained to the world that although the administration decided to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, its final status is still up for negotiation.

In summing up his year, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told a State Department town hall meeting in mid-December he has no diplomatic wins on the board. "Diplomacy is not that simple," he said. But Tillerson believes his restructuring plan — which includes improving IT systems and streamlining the bureaucracy — has put the State Department in a better place.

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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says he has not put any diplomatic wins on the board this year, but he believes his reforms are putting the State Department in a better, more efficient place.

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Vice President Mike Pence will travel to Egypt next month, and there's a group of Americans watching that trip very closely. They are the friends and relatives of people who've been swept up in arrests in Egypt over the past few years.

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