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Jacquelyn Martin / AP

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called on the countries in the Persian Gulf region who have cut off Qatar to "ease the blockade." He also argued that the diplomatic crisis is impairing U.S. and international business activity, as well as hindering military actions in the region, including the campaign against ISIS.

Note: Qatar's leader reportedly declined Trump's invitation to host mediation talks at the White House. A Qatari official told Reuters Thursday that the Emir of Qatar "has no plans to leave Qatar while the country is under a blockade."

Key excerpts from his Friday statement:

  • "We asked [the Saudi-led countries] that there be no further escalation by the parties in the region... the emir of Qatar has made progress in halting financial support and expelling terrorist elements from his country, but he must do more, and he must do it more quickly."
  • "We support the Emir of Kuwait's efforts to bring about a peaceful resolution to this agreement...the U.S. will support these efforts along with the emir of Kuwait."
  • "We know you are stronger together... our expectation is that these countries will immediately take steps to deescalate the situation and put forth a good faith effort to resolve their grievances they have with each other."

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Trump impeachment trial to start week of Feb. 8, Schumer says

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: The Washington Post via Getty

The Senate will begin former President Trump's impeachment trial the week of Feb. 8, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Friday on the Senate floor.

The state of play: Schumer announced the schedule after reaching an agreement with Republicans. The House will transmit the article of impeachment against the former president late Monday.

7 hours ago - Health

CDC extends interval between COVID vaccine doses for exceptional cases

Photo: Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty

Patients can space out the two doses of the coronavirus vaccine by up to six weeks if it’s "not feasible" to follow the shorter recommended window, according to updated guidance from the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention.

Driving the news: With the prospect of vaccine shortages and a low likelihood that supply will expand before April, the latest changes could provide a path to vaccinate more Americans — a top priority for President Biden.