Monday, February 17, 2014

'The deal is within grasp'

'Even as he pursues a crowded agenda of top-level meetings in South Korea and China followed by a visit to Indonesia, Secretary of State Kerry is facing calls for urgent action on the rapidly deteriorating situation in Syria. With the UN mediation efforts close to failure and amid reports of the growing influence of the most extreme groups and of a new inflow of sophisticated weaponry to the Syrian Revolutionaries Front (SRF) from the Saudis and UAE, Administration officials have come to a crossroads. As he returns to the US via the UAE next week, Kerry will be meeting regional figures to explore options. Our sources report, however, that the SRF leadership will meet with Congressional leaders in Washington next week to put their case for more US support to their efforts.  They will likely to receive a mixed reception, as Congress remains split on this issue. ...  Turning to Iran, a new round of P5+1 talks resumes on February 17th. US officials close to the talks remain confident that some kind of deal is within grasp. With the annual conference of the America Israel Public Affairs Committee due to be held in Washington in early March and to be addressed by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu the Administration will hear robust criticism of its approach, but the White House has now successfully deflected pressure for new sanctions against Iran and, for the time being, can pursue a deal relatively untroubled by political pressure.'

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