Expressing alarm at the lethal escalation of political violence in Ukraine, the European Union and the United States scrambled for a quick response Wednesday, threatening punitive sanctions against senior figures in the Ukrainian government. The Obama administration later said it had placed 20 top Ukrainian officials on a visa blacklist.

Much news in the press about recent ambassadorial nominees who haven't been to the country where they were selected to serve (see also the hilarious satirical video and the excellent piece by Ambassador Robert J. Callahan, "Plum posts if you can afford them: End the auction of ambassadorships").

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Sunday accused Washington of plotting with anti-government protesters and expelled three US diplomats in retaliation. Maduro's order came on the same day that fugitive opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez re-appeared and called for a mass rally on Tuesday and challenged the government to arrest him at the event.

UN officials lashed out as violence threatened efforts to help civilians. 'We understand that a war is going on. But even wars have rules,' the UN humanitarian chief said angrily. It has not been a promising 24 hours for mediation and humanitarian efforts in Syria. The UN's humanitarian chief lambasted the effort to provide aid to the Syrian city of Homs Thursday night, and today, UN special envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi warned that the failure of ongoing negotiations was "staring us in the face."

Diplomacy, like negotiation and card playing, is an old, traditional ‘art’. To succeed at all three, the player needs an edge over his or her opponents, an edge based on preparation, confidence and cultural acuity. The more you know going in, the greater your chances of ultimate success.

Today, American and French diplomats are preparing for talks with Iran that build on the agreement that has halted progress on and rolled back key elements of the Iranian nuclear program. French and American officials share information daily to combat terrorism around the world. Our development experts are helping farmers across Africa and on other continents boost their yields and escape poverty.

As the well-traveled Olympic flame and outstanding athletes from around the world converged in Sochi for Friday’s opening ceremony of the XXII Winter Olympic Games, dozens of U.S. diplomats and other officials were working behind the scenes in the scenic Russian city.

When Noura al-Ameer exchanged looks with the Syrian government representatives in Switzerland, she felt as though she was looking into the eyes of her interrogators in prison. The 26-year-old anti-government activist was detained for six months in some of Syria's most notorious prisons in Damascus and Homs before her release in late 2012.