Conflict & Justice

Talking Peace: This week in global diplomatic negotiations

Diplomats around the world are calling out for peace and meeting for negotiations this week on human rights issues and refurbishing old talks.

US Secretary of State John Kerry is back in the Middle East, Iran is almost ready for renewed talks with the US, Cuban officials travel to Washington DC, and Syria gets a visit from the UN’s special envoy on children in war.

Here are some of this week’s updates on important peace talks and developments to keep an eye on:


Iran will soon be ready to resume nuclear talks with the world powers, according to the Associated Press.

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi made comments after a meeting in Brussels today, announcing that the country’s new president—Hasan Rouhani, who is a former top nuclear negotiator—will put together a negotiating team once he is sworn in next month.

The meeting consisted of the five permanent UN Security Council nations plus Germany. EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton said the group “seeks to resume negotiations as soon as possible.”

An anonymous diplomat with knowledge of the topics of discussion told the AP that the possibility of “positive steps” was raised, including easing sanctions, in exchange for "flexibility" with Iran’s new chief negotiator.


Secretary of State John Kerry met with Palestinian authority Mahmoud Abbas today in Jordan, on his sixth trip to the region in four months in an effort to restart stalled Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

The meeting lasted five hours and was the second in two days, according to Voice of America, and Kerry has announced no plans to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

According to the LA Times, some Israeli and Jordanian news organizations have reported that the officials are near a breakthrough, though Kerry has made efforts to downplay the possibility for one.

In a separate meeting, Kerry reportedly discussed the peace plan with the Arab League chief and representatives of other Arab states, hoping to rally support.

Other topics examined included rising tensions in Egypt and the escalation of the Syrian conflict—whose own peace talks with Russia and the US continue to waver.


Cuban and US officials held their first migration talks since 2011 in Washington today.

Two 1994 and 1995 migration accords—meant to work toward “safe, legal and orderly migration”—required two meetings a year to review the progress of their implementation, but the Bush Administration ended those talks.

President Obama reestablished the talks, but quickly halted them once more over the jailing of US contractor Alan Gross.

According to CBS News, State Department spokesman William Ostick said that the resumed negotiations are not a sign of changing US policy toward Cuba, but that the talks are “continuing to ensure secure migration between the U.S. and Cuba [as] is consistent with our interests in promoting greater freedoms and increased respect for human rights in Cuba."

Under the migration accords, the US must issue visas to a minimum of 20,000 Cuban migrants each year, and Cuba must discourage “irregular and unsafe departures.” The US must also return illegal migrants found at sea to Cuba, and Havana must not retaliate against the migrants. The island has also granted US diplomats in the US Interests Section of Havana permission to visit the returned migrants and ensure their proper treatment.


While US-Russian backed peace talks for Syria continue to falter, the UN special envoy on children in war visited Syria to discuss growing international concern over the rising death toll of children in the country’s two-year conflict.

Leila Zerrougui arrived on Monday, according to the Times of India, and met with government officials, UN representatives, and non-governmental organizations. Her three-day trip was part of a longer tour through Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon and Turkey—each of which hosts thousands of Syrian refugees.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights watchdog on Monday reported the death toll for the Syrian conflict since March 2011 to be at more than 100,000, with over 5,000 of those being children under the age of 16.