U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday that the window for diplomacy with Iran over its nuclear program is “cracking open,” but stated that “our eyes are open too.”
While the United States seeks a peaceful resolution to Iran’s nuclear program, “words must be matched with actions,” Kerry told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) summit in Washington via satellite from London.
Kerry assured the pro-Israeli lobbying group of U.S. support and spoke of a need to negotiate cautiously with Iran.
“In any engagement with Iran, we are mindful of Israel’s security needs. We are mindful of the need for certainty, transparency, and accountability in the process. And I believe firmly that no deal is better than a bad deal,” said Kerry, according to his prepared remarks quoted by the Associated Press.
While Iran frequently says that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, Israel believes that the Iranian government intends to build nuclear weapons which will threaten its existence.
Meeting with Iran
Kerry was on a trip to London to meet European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton for talks on Syria and the upcoming meeting this week between Iran and world powers, according to a State Department official quoted by Agence France-Presse.
The two-day talks begin in Geneva on Tuesday amid hopes of a softer, more moderate approach Iranian President Hassan Rowhani, who took office in August promising to improve hostile relations with Western nations.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will negotiate with Ashton and the P5+1 group, consisting of the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China, plus Germany.
Kerry flew into London earlier on Sunday from Kabul, on his way back to Washington following a 10-day trip around Asia.
Kerry and Ashton’s talks included discussions on “the recent breakthrough on BSA (bilateral security agreement) negotiations which the EU will be closely engaged with, the upcoming Geneva conference with the P5+1 on Iran, the situation on the ground in Egypt, as well as efforts to plan a conference in Geneva on ending the civil war in Syria through a political transition,” according to a State Department official quoted by AFP.
The official added that Kerry and Ashton also discussed ongoing direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.
Kerry pledged U.S. support for Israel during his address to AIPAC, but repeated that a two-state plan was the “only solution” to bring peace.
(With the Associated Press and AFP)