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Talking Peace: This week in global diplomatic negotiations

Here's what you need to know about Russia, Syria, the EU, India and Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
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July 24, 2013- US Vice President Joe Biden (L) greets Ratan Tata, former chairman of Tata Group, India's largest conglomerate, after a round table discussion with corporate leaders in Mumbai. Biden arrived in India on July 22 at the start of a four-day visit designed to revive momentum in flagging diplomatic ties and fire up bilateral trade. (INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty Images)

Diplomats around the world are calling out for peace and meeting for negotiations this week on human rights issues and environmental safety.

Russia announces Syria’s Bashar al-Assad is ready for peace talks, The Elders take to Washington and London for discussions surrounding Israeli-Palestinian peace strategy, the EU calls for “water diplomacy,” and US Vice President Joe Biden to India.

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

RUSSIA/SYRIA

Russian foreign minister Sergey V. Lavrov announced on Monday that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government is ready for peace negotiations, without preconditions, and urged the US and Western nations to “bring Syrian opposition groups to the table for a new round of talks,” according to the NY Times.

Lavrov, who met with the Syrian deputy prime minister in Moscow, blamed the opposition groups for the stall in peace efforts.

“To our regret, in contrast to the Syrian government, a significant part of the opposition, including the National Coalition, does not show such readiness,” Lavrov said.

Lavrov also said Russia was determinedly pressuring the US and its Western allies to bring the opposition groups to the table.

The Syrian economy has been battered by two years of civil war, making Assad’s government reliant on mostly foreign aid—particularly from Russia and Iran—and delay of peace talks aimed at ending, or at the very least soothing, the Syrian conflict has been causing tension between the US and Russia.

Still, the NY Times reported, Lavrov said that Russia “remained committed to finding a peaceful resolution to the Syrian crisis and he urged all sides to attend peace talks in Geneva, in accordance with a plan that he brokered with Secretary of State John Kerry.”

LONDON

Nelson Mandela’s human rights group, The Elders, met on Monday with Washington, and arrived today in London to discuss Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.

The Elders, Former President of Finland Martti Ahtisaari, UN-Arab League Envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi and former US President Jimmy Carter, will be discussing the future of a two-state solution this evening at a London event.

The discussion will focus on “US efforts to restart peace talks, the Arab Peace Initiative, the role of the European Union and the impact of regional events.”

In the US, The Elders met this week with John Kerry and other officials, and participated in a public debate on Middle East peace at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace—a Washington, DC foreign policy think tank.

EU

EU foreign ministers on Monday stressed that “tensions over access to water are likely to rise in the next decade and could endanger stability in many parts of the world,” according to EurActiv.

Ministers endorsed “council conclusions” which highlight the need to promote cooperation with water diplomacy, based on the experiences of the EU, and confirmed that water security should be periodically addressed— looking “long-term” into “issues of high importance.”

According to the EurActiv report, ministers recognize that water-related conflicts could damage the stability in many parts of the world, “affecting the EU interests and international peace and security.”

UN reports show that approximately 783 million people, or 11 percent of the world's population, do not have access to improved sources of drinking water.

The ministers also applauded the result of the EU Water Security Mapping Initiative, “which they said has provided a picture of the individual member countries’ engagement on transboundary water security challenges across the world.” They then asked EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton to continue working with countries in need to find solutions.

The initiative has cited challenges in the Nile basin, the Middle East, the Sahel region, the Mekong River and Central Asia.

INDIA

US Vice President Joe Biden has been on a four-day tour of India this week and today called for an increased diplomatic and trade India-US partnership, in an push to close the “considerable gap” that exists between the two.

FirstPost reported that the topics of Biden’s address to a gathering at the Bombay Stock Exchange in Mumbai included a US-India trade partnership, terrorism, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and climate change.

“[There is] no contradiction between strategic autonomy and partnership,” Biden said, adding that joining the gap would reaffirm “individual self-interests of both countries line-up.”

In an effort to get India to agree to a trade partnership, Biden warned that it has “never been a good bet to bet against America.” He also reminded the gathering that increased defense cooperation would not impede on India’s sovereignty.

On climate change, Biden urged the country to “take a cue” from China, who is already beginning to see the effects of high levels of atmospheric pollution.

“Sea levels are rising, and will affect tens of millions of Indians in decades,” he said.
 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/rights/talking-peace-week-global-diplomatic-negotiations-4