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Washington Week: Focus on Philippines Aid, Iran Nukes

  • Michael Bowman

This week, America marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. But Washington is also focused on pressing global concerns, from typhoon devastation in the Philippines to an intensified diplomatic push on Iran’s nuclear program.

U.S. Navy teams have delivered more than 100 tons of aid to typhoon victims in the Philippines. More food, drinking water, and other supplies are on the way.

Among those delivering aid directly is Navy diver Toby Pickens.

“The people are really desperate. I have not seen anyone this hungry before,” said he.

Pickens added the work is highly rewarding.

“We never want these situations to happen, but when they do happen it is nice that we are tasked to go and help them, bring the food in, and be there handing them the food and seeing the look on their faces,” said Pickens.

President Barack Obama said assistance to the Philippines will continue.

“One of our core principles is, when friends are in trouble, America helps,” said the president.

Obama is also speaking out on the possibility of a negotiated accord governing Iran’s hotly-contested nuclear program, and urging U.S. lawmakers to hold off, for now, on a new round of economic sanctions against Tehran.

“Let us test how willing [Iranian officials] are to actually resolve this diplomatically and peacefully,” said Obama.

Secretary of State John Kerry pressed senators on that point last week, saying a tighter sanctions regime would be counter-productive.

“It could destroy the ability to get agreement, and it could actually wind up setting us back in dialogue that has taken 30 years to be able to achieve,” said Kerry.

So-called P5+1 negotiations with Iran are to resume this week in Geneva. Tehran is demanding an end to international sanctions while asserting a right to continue enriching nuclear material.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has blasted any deal that eases sanctions before Tehran verifiably eliminates its nuclear military capability. Secretary Kerry will attempt to assuage Israeli concerns when he meets with Netanyahu later this week.