The journey to Iran/US diplomacy continues to tread a positive, but hesitant trail as the sanctioned country prepares to meet with Western powers in Geneva next week. In the meantime, the US has responded to continued Egyptian conflict by announcing that it will temporarily withhold aid, pending shifts in the military-government’s performance, and Israeli and Palestinian authorities strike different tones following a Monday meeting concerning ongoing efforts for peace talks.
Here’s what to keep an eye on:
The State Department announced Wednesday that it will cut US aid to Egypt until the military government “demonstrates more commitment towards inclusiveness, NBC News reported. The decision to cut funding is part of American efforts to “recalibrate” its relationship with the country.
While it is known that the cuts will suspend $260 million in cash transfers and $300 million in loan guarantee, and affect military assistance which provides F-16 fighter jets, M1A1 tank kits, Harpoon missiles and Apache Helicopters, officials have yet to specify how much aid will be withheld.
"We're talking hundreds of millions of dollars in military assistance," an Obama administration official said.
The suspension, however, is reportedly not intended to be permanent. US Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington would “consider resuming some of the aid ‘on a basis of performance’ in following the interim government’s ‘roadmap’ that promises to lead to fair elections.”
The Egyptian government responded today saying it would not yield to US force, and that it finds the decision odd as the country is "facing a war against terrorism".
Iran plans to use its excess stock of enriched uranium as a leveraging tool at nuclear talks in Geneva next week, according to a statement made on Wednesday by Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani.
Larijani told the Associated Press that the surplus would be on the table for negotiations with the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany, with the possibility of “halting its enrichment of uranium to 20 percent”—a key factor for progress established by the Western powers.
He once more reiterated Iran’s stance, saying the country had produced the enriched uranium because the UN International Atomic Energy Agency did not provide it.
"But we have some surplus, you know, the amount that we don't need. Over that we can have some discussions," he said, referring to next week's talks with Western powers.
In return of the negotiations, Iran is seeking a loosening of sanctions on trade in gold and petrochemicals.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who met with Israeli politicians on Monday, “expressed optimism” that the two territories could reach a peace agreement in the next nine months of negotiations, the NY Times said.
Abbas hosted “10 left-wing members of the Israeli Parliament” in the West Bank, and reportedly excluded the word occupation from remarks, and only briefly mentioned settlements.
But the hopeful tone did not match that of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his Sunday speech, when he said an agreement could be reached “only if the Palestinian leadership recognized Israel as a Jewish state, a notion it has long rejected.”
The meeting came after delays, controversy, and a July visit by Palestinian leaders to Israel’s Parliament. There, Palestinian and Israeli flags flew side by side for the first time in over a decade.