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Talking Peace: This week in global diplomatic negotiations

Here's what you need to know about Egypt, India, Pakistan, Iran, Russia and the International Olympic Committee.
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An Egyptian supporter of the deposed president Mohamed Morsi stands next to a fire during clashes with security forces in Six October City in Giza, south of Cairo, on August 2, 2013. Islamist backers of Egypt's deposed president Mohamed Morsi staged defiant rallies, with police firing tear gas at demonstrators, after the government ordered their protest camps to be broken up. (FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images)

Some diplomatic relations this week collapsed, while others received hopeful boosts.

Egypt is left with possibly “no diplomatic solution” to its crisis, India and Pakistan are attempting to forge new friendly ties through sports, Iranian President Rohani announced that there is no military option for a solution to the Syrian civil war, and the International Olympic Committee is “quietly” speaking with Russian leaders about the safety of the coming Winter Games.

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

EGYPT

Just as the US envoy made his way home from Cairo after days of trying to broker a compromise between the Egypt's militarily installed government and ousted President Mohamed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, Reuters has reported that the political crisis is entering a tense new phase.

This week’s collapsed international mediation efforts may be signaling that Egypt’s current unrest cannot be solved diplomatically. The government “repeated its threat” this morning, to take action against Morsi’s supporters.

Both sides have reportedly called their supporters on to the streets. In two protest camps located in Cairo, Reuters said, Morsi supporters prepared for action by security forces.

The European Union special envoy remains in Cairo, but Brussels said it was “very concerned by the breakdown in talks.”

"What I see is that confrontation is mounting and that more people will turn to the streets to protest and the tendency in the armed forces to repress that will mount," Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans, one of many foreign officials who have visited Cairo’s crisis, told Reuters. "So I think there's need to be worried about the next days and weeks.”

In response to questions about the government’s threat, Gehad El-Haddad, Muslim Brotherhood spokesman said "this means they are preparing for an even bigger massacre. They should be sending us positive signals, not live bullets."

INDIA/PAKISTAN

India and Pakistan will be trying “blind cricket diplomacy,” according to the Wall Street Journal. India’s blind cricket team will tour in Pakistan in February.

General Secretary of the Cricket Association for the Blind in India, G.K. Mahantesh, said today that the two countries have agreed to a series in Pakistan.

“Both teams play competitive cricket, this builds a lot of harmony. We want to work toward building that camaraderie and a harmonious relationship… we want to grow bilateral ties,” Mahantesh told the WSJ.

The agreement comes at a particularly tense time in India-Pakistan relations. Five Indian soldiers were found dead on Tuesday, near the disputed border between the two countries.

Mahantesh said instances like these are disturbing examples of some “vested interests trying to sabotage growing friendly ties.”

Pakistan has been forbidden to international cricket teams since 2009, after a gunmen attacked a test match in Lahore, killing six policemen and two civilians.

But Mahantesh remains optimistic about establishing friendly Indian-Pakistani ties through the sport.

“When India and Pakistan plays, the crowd is tremendous,” he said.

Details of the tour have not yet been finalized.

IRAN

New Iranian President Hassan Rohani condemned foreign intervention in Syria yesterday in his first press conference since taking office, according to Iran’s state-funded news agency PressTV.

The president also condemned the continuing cival war, the presence of foreign-backed terrorists, and underscored “the importance of diplomacy as the only path to resolve the crisis in the Arab country.”

Rejecting any military solution to the Syrian crisis, the president said, “the solution for Syria is a political solution with the participation of all the Syrian groups including the government and opposition. If the regional countries such as Iran, Turkey, and other states assist and participate, they can accelerate the process.”

Iran is expected to aid in the diplomatic process, reportedly joining Russia on the side of the Syrian government to participate in peace talks with the United States on the side of the opposition.

Over 100,000 people have been killed in Syria’s violence to date.

RUSSIA

The International Olympic Committee is reportedly engaged in "quiet diplomacy" with Russian leaders, to guarantee the safety of participants and spectators for February’s Winter Games in Sochi.

The IOC and Kremlin have been back and forth for weeks, amid soaring controversy over Russia’s new anti-gay law, and reports of escalating violence against members of the Federation’s LGBT community.

According to the Associated Press, Ng Ser Miang, an IOC vice president from Singapore, said Russian President Vladimir Putin's government has too much at stake to do anything that might jeopardize the success of Russia's first Winter Games.

"The IOC has made a very strong point that they will be against any action that would discriminate against participants at the Sochi Games, whether it's officials, media, visitors or the athletes," Ng said.

Ng also said that the chairman of the IOC's coordination commission for Sochi has been maintaining dialogue with the "highest authority in Russia" to resolve the issue.

It was also some of the “highest authority in Russia” who told the IOC just over a week ago, that participants and spectators would not be subject to the law. But Russia’s sports minister took that statement back last week.

Still, the IOC seems to be holding out for a positive outcome.

"I believe there will be a good solution to that," Ng told reporters in London. "I believe that this issue will be resolved to the satisfaction of all."
 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/rights/talking-peace-week-global-diplomatic-negotiations-6