Tuesday, November 5, 2013

White House: 'some aspects of Iran financial sanctions can be eased by executive order'

'... For the purposes of foreign policy, the most immediate challenge may be over Iran. Officials at the White House and State Department tell us that they have a real sense of opportunity after last week’s expert level exchanges in Vienna. The problem for Washington, as a State Department official put it to us, “is that Tehran is now looking for a reciprocal gesture on sanctions. Without Congressional approval this will be impossible to produce.” The Administration is, however, not without options as some aspects of financial sanctions can be eased by executive order from the White House. Such moves are under consideration if the next round of talks on November 7th/8th makes more progress. Elsewhere in the Middle East, US officials are welcoming the successful first phase of theelimination of chemical weapons in Syria but acknowledge that they are further than ever from convening the hoped-for  Geneva 2 conference on Syria. Secretary of State Kerry will travel to the region next week to seek support for US policies, but the background is a somber one. With regard to Iraq the visit of Prime Minister Maliki to Washington saw little meeting of the minds, while relations with Saudi Arabia continue to be deeply troubled. Kerry is taking a message of reconciliation from Obama to Riyadh. US officials hope that there is enough common ground in the relationship to allow things to be patched up, but are concerned that the rift will not easily be repaired. Egypt was not originally on Kerry’s itinerary, but was added to underline the trend to accommodate with the new government... .'

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