Remarks With Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Before Their Meeting
Secretary of State
SECRETARY KERRY: I want to thank Prime Minister Netanyahu for, first of all, his extraordinary hospitality yet again. We had an extremely friendly, very productive, long discussion last night. I think it’s fair to say that we made progress, that we were pleased with the substance of the discussion and agreed, each of us, to do some homework. And we’re going to do our homework over the course of the next weeks, and today we’re going to continue some of that discussion with a view to seeing how we can really pull all of the pieces together and make some progress here. And I want to thank the Prime Minister for his good-faith efforts here. It’s been serious, it’s been focused, and I would characterize it as very productive.
PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: Thank you. Thank you, John. It’s good to see you again in Jerusalem and to work at our common goal for peace. I am determined to not only to resume the peace process with the Palestinians but to make a serious effort to end this conflict once and for all. This has economic components. We welcome any initiatives that you and others will bring forward in this regard. But it also has a political component, political discussions that will address a myriad of issues. Foremost in our minds are questions of recognition and security. This is a real effort, and we look forward to advance in this effort with you.
We’ve been talking about several other issues, and I’ll only mention two. First, we’ve been talking about Syria and the human tragedy there. But the fragmentation of that country is creating a situation where one of the most dangerous stockpiles of weapons in the world is now becoming accessible to terrorists of every shade and hue. This is of great concern for both of us, for both the United States and Israel, and we are talking about addressing this problem specifically.
And last, and certainly not least, we’ve been talking about Iran. I think everybody understands that Iran has been running out the clock, has been using the talks to continue to advance its nuclear program. You’ve just heard by Iranian state television about a new production facility for nuclear material and two new extraction sites. I think we also understand what it means for the world to have rogue states with nuclear weapons. Iran cannot be allowed to cross into that world. It cannot be allowed to continue its program, its nuclear weapons program, and we must not allow it to continue to do so in defiance of the entire international community.
These are the three most obvious subjects we’ve been talking about. You may not believe it, but we’ve actually talked about a few others as well. It’s good to see you again.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much.
PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: Thank you for everything. Thank you.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you. Could I just add very quickly one thing? We have been talking about some economic initiative, but I think both of us – and the Prime Minister just said this – we want to make it absolutely clear that whatever steps we take with respect to economics are in no way a substitute but they are in addition to the political track. The political track is first and foremost; other things may happen to supplement it.
Secondly, with respect to Iran, I have reiterated to the Prime Minister, as I did yesterday to the President, President Obama could not be more clear: Iran cannot have and will not have a nuclear weapon. And the United States of America has made clear that we stand not just with Israel but with the entire international community in making it clear that we are serious, we are open to negotiation, but it is not an open-ended, endless negotiation; it cannot be used as an excuse for other efforts to try to break out with respect to a nuclear weapon. And we are well aware and coordinating very, very closely with respect to all of our assessments regarding that. But President Obama doesn’t bluff; he’s made that very clear to me. And we hope the Iranians will come back to the table with a very serious proposal.
PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: Thank you.
PRN: 2013/ T03-05