Conflict & Justice

Talking Peace: This week in diplomatic negotiations


Russias President Vladimir Putin gestures during a press conference at the end of the G20 summit on September 6, 2013 in Saint Petersburg. World leaders at the G20 summit on Friday failed to bridge their bitter divisions over US plans for military action against the Syrian regime, with Washington signalling that it has given up on securing Russia's support at the UN on the crisis.



With international unrest surrounding Syria starting to calm, diplomats have returned to other diplomatic concerns.

The US and Russia will still push forward on Syria peace talks, Iran may be ready to negotiate on its nuclear program, the Brazilian president has canceled a state visit to the US and Obama is set to meet with Israeli prime minister at the end of the month.

Here’s what you should keep an eye on:


Despite a US-Russian framework to rid Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of his chemical weapon stockpile, Voice of America said Wednesday, the long-time political divisions between the US and Russia are of course unresolved. 

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the international community, following the agreement to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons, now has an opportunity to push diplomacy further.

"The latest development therefore, that we have, is an opportunity to reinvigorate, not just, not just trying to sort out the chemical weapons issue but the broader political dimension," she said.

Peace talks between the two nations have been delayed by the disorganization of Syrian opposition leadership, as well as arguments over whether or not Iran should participate in such talks—Russia wants Iran to join, while Washington objects.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague, according to VOA, said the all parties must press forward.

"Our goal remains to convene a second Geneva Conference to bring all sides together to agree on a political solution to the conflict,” he said “And we will work with Russia on bringing that about, as soon as possible.”

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said “it may be time to ‘force’ opposition leaders to peace talks,” and “blames delay on those who threaten Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.”


The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization said today that he saw an "opening" in the nuclear issue between Iran and the West, Reuters reported, calling it “the latest signal that Tehran expects fresh movement to break a decade-old deadlock.”

Iran has for years been sanctioned by the US and its allies, who believe Iran’s nuclear intent is to reach weapon capability. Iran continuously denies any intentions to make a bomb, saying that its nuclear energy program is peaceful. Thus far, negotiations have failed to solve the clash.

But Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, said that could be changing by March 2014—the end of the current Iranian calendar year.

"This year, in the coming months, we will witness openings in this issue...We expect that in the coming months we will see the start of the process of exiting the nuclear issue," Iranian Mehr news agency quoted Salehi as saying."With the information that we had seven or eight months ago, and the indications we saw, we were certain that 1392 [the current Iranian calendar year] would be a very good year especially on Iran's nuclear issue, and today as well we see indications to that effect.”

Just yesterday Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said he would be flexible about diplomacy. Earlier this afternoon President Obama, in a letter to Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, said the US is “ready to resolve its nuclear dispute with Iran in a way that allows Tehran to show it is not trying to build weapons.”


Following more recent NSA leaks about US surveillance, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has cancelled plans to visit Washington in October.

Presidents Obama and Rousseff spoke on the telephone for 20 minutes on Monday night, according to Reuters—an attempt by Obama to convince Rousseff to make the state visit.

Still, new revelations that the US spied on her personal communications as well as those of the Brazilian people, have led to the cancellation and a “big blow to relations between the two biggest economies in the Americas.”

Both the White House and Rousseff's office, Reuters reported, have called the decision a “mutually agreed postponement,” leaving open the opportunity for a possible future visit. Any future visit, however, is “unlikely to happen anytime soon.”

"As the president previously stated, he has directed a broad review of US intelligence posture, but the process will take several months to complete," White House spokesman Jay Carney said about US moves to deal with surveillance complaints.

US officials have said the NSA surveillance was intended to track suspected terrorist activity, and not to spy on personal exchanges, but Brazil remains unconvinced.

The trip was expected to “be a platform for deals on oil exploration and biofuels technology,” as well as “Brazil's potential purchase” of fighter jets from a Chicago-based company.


President Obama will be meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on September 30th, the White House announced yesterday.

The meeting will cover the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, as well as issues with Iran and Syria.

The leaders last met in Israel in March.