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It was a pleasant surprise to listen to Israel radio following the news that Iran and the P5+1 group had reached an interim agreement in Geneva last night.

I mean, the news of the deal itself aren’t that pleasant (Iran isn’t really rolling back its nuclear program, but it gets sanctions relief in return) — BUT there were plenty of female experts interviewed, from officials in the Prime Minister’s Office to nuclear experts, army experts and political analysts.

It pleases one’s heart that qualified voices are heard. We only hope, they are heard *in the room* as well, as Israel moves into a new phase regarding the Iranian threat.

Speaking of “in the room” – Ha’aretz today has a lenghty article on EU’s Ashton and her role in the talks. We have heard a few rumours that she might look to replace Ban ki-Moon at the UN. It’s still only a rumour, but you’ve heard it here first (well, here and in German and French newspapers over the summer)

(i don’t know who owns this picture. found it here. is likely the Guardian’s – i like the serious look. too many ashton pictures are mean. if you don’t agree with her, attack her work, not her looks.)

Here’s the link to the piece, plus an excerpt. It’s by “subscription only” and we don’t break the rules here at the Gates…(read: Befriend a Ha’aretz subscriber -or get your own subscription)

Profile || Catherine Ashton, activist turned powerful diplomat at the heart of the nuclear talks

When Catherine Ashton’s name comes up in talks with ministers in London, they don’t conceal their smiles of condescension. She symbolizes everything they despise. She is a former activist in social welfare organizations, member of the Labour Party and senior representative of European bureaucracy, which they consider inflated and arrogant.

The European Union’s High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy is one of the most important diplomats in the world, but she was appointed four years ago without any diplomatic experience whatsoever. She is one of the most powerful politicians in Europe, but has never run in an election. And she was appointed to her previous position as EU Trade Commissioner without ever having been involved in international trade

[…]

When she was appointed a year later as EU trade commissioner, she was already a target of much criticism in Great Britain for being chosen to fill a powerful position without relevant training or experience in the field. But to the surprise of many, as trade commissioner – and afterward as foreign minister – she actually led a series of complex negotiations and formed international coalitions for various issues, such as the battle against Somali pirates.

The Iranians are divided in their opinion of Ashton. “We respect her greatly and she knows how to create a pleasant and practical atmosphere in the talks. The fact is that we prefer to sit with her rather than with each delegation separately,” says a source close to the delegation. “The problem is it’s quite clear that there is no genuine political power behind her. She has to go to consult with the representatives of the world powers on every minor detail. Nobody is under the illusion that she has any authority to decide on her own. She is no more than a liaison, and at that she is very effective.”

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