Budget Fight Prompts Fear of U.S. Diplomatic Retreat

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The United States' claim to global diplomatic pre-eminence could take a major hit if legislators cannot stave off automatic spending cuts.

The price: $2.6 billion.

In a real-world sense, that means tough foreign policy choices for newly sworn Secretary of State John Kerry if the budget impasse isn't solved.

The reductions would affect everything from security funding for allies like Israel to humanitarian aid in war-torn nations like Syria.

And it would affect security at embassies and consulates, an incredibly sensitive topic since the September attack in Benghazi, Libya.

With Democrats and Republicans locked in a budget disagreement, the State Department was among the federal agencies this week to begin announcing forecasted cuts.

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