Nuclear Talks Continue as Diplomats Near Consensus
The negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program between Iran and the P5+1 pushed past a notional deadline for a framework yesterday, with diplomats talking into the early morning hours in Lausanne, Switzerland. “We’ve made enough progress in the last days to merit staying until Wednesday,” State Department Spokesperson Marie Harf said in a briefing on Tuesday ...
The negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program between Iran and the P5+1 pushed past a notional deadline for a framework yesterday, with diplomats talking into the early morning hours in Lausanne, Switzerland. “We’ve made enough progress in the last days to merit staying until Wednesday,” State Department Spokesperson Marie Harf said in a briefing on Tuesday afternoon. Several foreign ministers left the talks last night, but Secretary of State John Kerry and foreign ministers from the European Union, Britain, and Germany remained to continue resolving the remaining issues. An Iranian negotiator said he would stay “as long as necessary” to reach a deal.
The 17 hours of talks yesterday seemed to make some headway towards an agreement, and negotiators seemed optimistic about the prospects of reaching a consensus. “I think we have a broad framework of understanding but there are still some key issues that have to be worked through,” British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said this morning. His Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, told reporters that “we at the minister level have reached an agreement in principle on all key aspects of the final settlement of this issue.” Portions of this remain to be drafted today, say diplomats.
U.S. Resumes Military Aid to Egypt But Will Discontinue Purchases on Credit
The Obama Administration announced yesterday that it will resume the delivery of military weapons systems to Egypt, including 12 F-16 fighter jets, 20 Harpoon missiles, and parts to assemble 125 M1A1 Abrams tanks, but said the United States would end the policy that allows Egypt to purchase weapons on credit from future aid. The shipments of military hardware were frozen in October 2013 in response to the July coup that overthrew the government of President Mohamed Morsi. The Obama Administration did not comment on governance in Egypt in its statement, but said resuming military aid is “in the interest of U.S. security.” Experts say the end of credit financing for military purchases could allow the United States to wind down aid in the future. Overall, though, the decision has been seen as a move to shore up relations with Cairo and has been rebuked by human rights groups.
- Two gunmen affiliated with the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front, a Turkish Marxist terrorist group, were killed by police after taking hostage a Turkish prosecutor responsible for investigating the death of a teenager during the Gezi Park protests in 2013; the prosecutor subsequently died of wounds sustained during the incident.
- Libya’s fractious Tripoli-based parliament sacked its prime minister, Omar al-Hassi, who will be temporarily replaced by his deputy; a government spokesman said the move could facilitate a breakthrough in negotiations to reconcile with the country’s rival government in Tobruk.
- The Saudi-led coalition bombarded Aden yesterday in the heaviest fighting yet in its intervention in Yemen, but Saudi officials said there are no set plans to send ground troops, despite requests from the government of ousted President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
- Qatar’s ambassador to Egypt will return to Cairo in a sign that the two countries have reportedly smoothed out a diplomatic spat that escalated when Egypt conducted airstrikes in Libya in February.
- U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner is traveling in the Middle East this week; he will continue on to Israel today to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after meeting with the Saudi defense minister yesterday.
-J. Dana Stuster
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