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Sunday, April 7, 2013

Daily Political Wire

George Wenschhof

Kazakhstan Talks Produce No Solution To Iran Nuclear Program - World powers and Iran failed again to end the deadlock in a decade-old dispute over Tehran's nuclear program in talks that ended in Kazakhstan on Saturday, prolonging a standoff that could yet spiral into a new Middle East war.

No new talks were scheduled but big power negotiators, who earlier this year were insisting that time was running out, were at pains to say the diplomatic process would continue.

Iran's critics accuse it of covertly seeking the means to produce nuclear bombs. Israel, widely believed to have the Middle East's only nuclear arsenal, sees Iran's nuclear program as a potential threat to its existence.

With a presidential election due in Iran in June, scope for a breakthrough at the two-day meeting in Almaty was slim.

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, the powers' chief negotiator, said long discussions had not bridged the differences between the two sides. has more here.


Kerry Works To Repair Israel-Turkey Relationship - Secretary of State John Kerry urged Turkish leaders Sunday to speedily restore full diplomatic relations with Israel, two American allies the U.S. sees as anchors of stability in a Middle East wracked by Syria’s civil war, Arab Spring political upheavals and the potential threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program.

Turkey, however, demanded that Israel end all “embargoes” against the Palestinians first.

In Istanbul on the first leg of a 10-day overseas trip, Kerry met with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu with the aim of firming up the rapprochement between Turkey and Israel that President Barack Obama kick-started during a visit to the Jewish state last month.

Kerry met later Sunday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan before traveling on to Israel. has more here.


U.S. Delays Misssile Test - A senior defense official confirms that the Pentagon has delayed an intercontinental ballistic missile test that was scheduled for next week. The official says Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel decided to postpone the test because of ongoing tensions with North Korea.

The test was "long planned and was never associated with North Korea to begin with," the official said, but added that "given recent tensions on the Korean Peninsula, it's prudent and wise to take steps that avoid any misperception or chance of manipulation, so the test has been postponed."

The test was planned for next week at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. It would have tested the Minuteman 3 ICBM missile.  NBC News has more here.


Afghan Car Bomb Kills U.S. Diplomat, Five Americans - A car bomb blast killed five Americans, including three U.S. soldiers and a young diplomat, on Saturday, while an American civilian died in a separate attack in the east.

The diplomat and other Americans were in a convoy of vehicles in Zabul province when the blast occurred, Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement.

The soldiers and the diplomat died in the blast along with a civilian employee of the Defense Department and Afghan civilians, Kerry said. His statement gave no overall death toll.  The Chicago Tribune has more here.


Hagel Eyes Triming Defense Budget - In his first month as Defense secretary, Hagel has called for a review of the military’s strategy and said it was time for “big choices” on the budget.

He said all options should be on the table, and focused not on cuts to the Pentagon’s overall budget, but on the way the money is being spent. has more here.


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