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Shuttle Diplomacy

Shuttle diplomacy is an aspect of international negotiations, in which an outside intermediary serves as a go-between between two disputing parties, without the conflicting individuals being forced to meet face-to-face. Shuttle DiplomacyThe term originated in the early 1970s with the efforts of, then-Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger to negotiate an end to the Yom Kippur War between Israel and its neighbors. Shuttle diplomacy continues in the Middle East today, undertaken often by the American Secretary of State, but also by Turkish diplomats, as Turkey is a close, proximal ally to Israel.

Shuttle diplomacy is, basically, an intermediary shuttling between parties, carrying messages from one locale to the other. In 1973 and 1974, Henry Kissinger made numerous short flights from one Middle Eastern location to another. In January 1974, Kissinger first arrived in Aswan, Egypt, meeting with President Anwar Sadat. The Yom Kippur War had reached a ceasefire, but no settlement. For an entire week, Kissinger flew between Israel and Israel, giving rise to the term shuttle diplomacy by the pool of reporters that accompanied him.

Kissinger undertook several other instances of shuttle diplomacy in the Nixon and Ford administrations. Today, mediated communication, as shuttle diplomacy is officially called, is a vital tool in instances where direct communication between parties is unlikely to achieve a desired result. Often, such parties are too polarized, and a third party is in the best position to settle disputes.

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