Conflict & Justice

Talking Peace: This week in global diplomatic negotiations


Egyptian army and policemen carry coffins covered with the national flags at Almaza military Airbase in Cairo on August 19, 2013, during a funeral for 25 policemen who were killed near the border town of Rafah, North Sinai. Militants killed 25 policemen in the deadliest attack of its kind in years, as Egypt's army-installed rulers escalated a campaign to crush ousted president Mohamed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood.



Saudi Arabia pledged to replace any aid the US decides to withhold from Cairo, Pakistan is considering talks with the Taliban, Iran declares new approaches to foreign policy and China inches closer to resuming talks with North Korea.

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


As the Obama administration tries to decide whether or not to suspend aid to Egypt, Saudi Arabia has already pledged to replace any financial assistance that could be withheld as a result of the military's deadly crackdown.

"I confirm to everyone, the Saudi Kingdom leaders, government and nation has stood and will forever stand with Egypt and the Arab community will not allow ever to have their fate manipulated or their security and stability tampered with," NBC quoted Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal as saying. "As for those who announced that they will stop their support to Egypt or threatened to stop it, for the Arab and Muslim world is rich with its people and capabilities and will not hesitate to offer a helping hand to Egypt."

Saudi Arabia, along with the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, views the Muslim Brotherhood as a substantial threat to the security of the region's authoritarian governments, as it has been called “the world’s most influential Islamist movement.”

So, as American officials announced a case-by-case review of aid programs to Egypt which amount to $1.5 billion in annual aid, Saudi Arabia and its fellow Gulf kingdoms promised to keep the money flowing.

Since the beginning of July, they have pledged approximately $12 billion in aid.

Meanwhile, congressional leaders continue to warn against preserving aid programs, and urge the Obama administration to cut aid entirely following last week’s violent surge that killed nearly 1,000 people.


New Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday “hinted” at considering opening talks with Taliban militants, according to the New York Times.

Still, Sharif said in his first televised policy speech since assuming office in June, Pakistan would maintain the option of military action should relations meet that end.

“Like every Pakistani, I want an early end to this bloodshed, whether it is through the process of dialogue or heavy use of the state force,” Sharif said. “Being the prime minister, every Pakistani is my kith and kin. I cannot shoulder the funerals of my sons every day.”

Sharif went on to refer to Taliban militants as those “who have unfortunately adopted extremism.”

Pakistan has seen continued militant violence over the two months since Sharif began, with at least 70 attacks, including a major prison break.

In the same speech, Sharif also addressed the escalating tensions with India over Kashmir in recent weeks, and once more called for improved ties with India.


It seems, so far, that new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is making good on the hope for change his election instilled in the country.

At Saturday’s inauguration for Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s new foreign minister, Rouhani called for foreign policy “free of sloganeering,” according to AlJazeera.

Saying that there is no need for continuing in the same overbearing style as his predecessor, he has pledged to follow a policy of moderation and to ease international tensions.

"That doesn't mean abandoning our principles but it does mean a change of method, we have no right to use foreign policy to win plaudits, it's a very sensitive field and it's the key to solving our current problems," Rouhani said.

Iranian officials also announced, following Saturday’s inauguration, that new Foreign Minister Zarif will now lead nuclear talks—an effort to try a less confrontational approach to negotiations.

The focus of the plan, the Washington Post reported, is to “maintain the program but abandon the bombastic negotiating style used under Rouhani’s predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.”


A senior Chinese military official on Wednesday said there is a possibility for resumed nuclear talks with North Korea, GlobalPost reported.

Guan Youfei, the director of the external affairs office of China's defense ministry, remarked on easing tensions in the Korean Peninsula during a press conference held in Washington, D.C. where he accompanied Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan.

"An opportunity or a window has emerged to open talks on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue," Xinhua News Agency reported.

Despite worsening tensions by conducting its third nuclear test earlier this year, North Korea has “recently made overtures toward South Korea and the US.”

Seoul and Pyongyang just last week agreed to reopen a mutually run industrial complex in the North's border city of Kaesong that has been closed since April.