Top news: In a joint news conference in the West Bank with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, U.S. President Barack Obama reaffirmed his commitment to a two-state solution, saying the Palestinians deserve an end to occupation and the "daily indignities that come with it." Obama also said that Israeli settlement activity is "unhelpful" and reiterated that direct negotiations are the only path to an agreement: "There's no short cut to a sustainable solution."
Obama's trip to the West Bank comes on the second day of his visit to Israel, where on Wednesday he expressed unwavering support for the Jewish state during a joint press conference with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In addition to taking questions on Syria and Iran, the president announced that he and Netanyahu had begun talks on extending the defense assistance agreement between the United States and Israel, set to expire in 2017.
Obama also pledged to investigate the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria, saying proof that such weapons had been deployed by the Syrian military would be a "game changer" for American involvement in the conflict.
War on terror: Overemphasis by U.S. spy agencies on drone strikes and other paramilitary operations has resulted in intelligence blind spots in China and the Middle East, according to a previously undisclosed report by the President's Intelligence Advisory Board.
- Kuwaiti lawmakers passed a bill Wednesday that grants citizenship to 4,000 "stateless" people, of whom there are some 106,000 in the tiny Gulf emirate.
- Egypt's strategic wheat reserves have dwindled to roughly 2.4 million tons, or less than a three month supply, amid increasingly dire economic conditions.
- Two rockets fired Thursday from the Gaza Strip landed in the southern Israeli town of Sderot as U.S. President Barack Obama met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
- U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson called Wednesday for Congolese rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda to be transferred to the ICC "as quickly as possible."
- The ICC's chief prosecutor said Wednesday that the trial of Kenyan President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta on charges of war crimes will go ahead, though the timing remains up in the air.
- In an interview published Wednesday, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir said he will not seek reelection in 2015.
- The Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Wednesday that a rat may have caused Monday's power outage at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.
- Afghan Presidents Hamid Karzai signed a deal with Turkmenistan and Tajikistan Wednesday to build a railway linking the three countries.
- North Korea on Thursday issued a fresh threat to attack U.S. military bases in Japan and Guam.
- Venezuela severed an informal channel of communication with the United States Wednesday over comments made by a U.S. diplomat about presidential candidate is Henrique Capriles.
- The trial of the former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt, who stands accused of genocide and crimes against humanity, got underway Wednesday in Guatemala City.
- Chilean authorities are investigating the mysterious death of thousands of prawns that have washed ashore Coronel city.
- Germany's government dropped a bid to outlaw the country's far-right National Democratic Party, characterized by intelligence agencies as "racist, anti-Semitic and revisionist."
- Banks remained closed in Cyprus Wednesday as the government proposed an emergency bond sale, among other measures, as part of a plan to reassure international lenders.
- French police searched IMF chief Christine Lagarde's Paris apartment on Wednesday as part of an investigation into her role in a 2008 financial scandal.