Remarks With U.K. Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond Before Their Bilateral Meeting

John Kerry
Secretary of State
London, United Kingdom
November 18, 2014

SECRETARY KERRY: All right. Good morning, everybody. I am, first of all, delighted to be in London with my friend Philip Hammond. I think the fact that we are meeting on a regular basis now, almost weekly since he has become the foreign secretary, is an indicator of the importance of our relationship and the degree to which we rely on each other as we face some very, very complicated and challenging issues.

But I want to say something first, if I may. The reason I was delayed walking in here: I was just on the phone to Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel. This morning, today in Jerusalem, Palestinians attacked Jews who were praying in a synagogue. And people who had come to worship God in the sanctuary of a synagogue were hatcheted and hacked and murdered in that holy place in an act of pure terror and senseless brutality and murder.

I call on the Palestinian leadership at every single level to condemn this in the most powerful terms. This violence has no place anywhere, and particularly after a discussion that we had just the other day in Amman, where the prime minister of Israel flew to Amman, sat down with the Custodian of the al-Aqsa Mosque, King Abdullah of Jordan, and went to the extent of restoring in absolute terms the status quo with respect to the management of that mount, including lowering the age, taking away any age limits on people who could visit, guaranteeing that there were peaceful, completely uninterrupted visits over the weekend. And to have this kind of act, which is a pure result of incitement of calls for days of rage, of just an irresponsibility, is unacceptable.

So the Palestinian leadership must condemn this and they must begin to take serious steps to restrain any kind of incitement that comes from their language, from other people’s language, and exhibit the kind of leadership that is necessary to put this region on a different path. Our hearts go out to all Israelis for the atrocity of this event and for all the reminders of history that come with it. This is – simply has no place in human behavior, and we need to hear from leaders who are going to lead – lead their people to a different place.

We might also say I know Philip and I have a lot to talk about this morning. This is a very critical week, obviously, in Iran negotiations. We hope we can get there, but we can’t make any predictions, nor will we. It’s imperative, obviously, that Iran work with us in all possible effort to prove to the world the program is peaceful, and we will reconvene in Vienna at the appropriate time later in the week. Our people are on the ground, they will begin work today, and we’ll see where we are.

We also, obviously, have the challenge of ISIL, the challenge of Syria. We’re making some progress in Iraq with ISIL. We’re very grateful to our friends from Great Britain for their significant contribution. Again, the brutality and violence of Syria and also catastrophe of huge human proportions with almost 70 percent – 75 percent close of the population of Syria, the normal population, displaced. This is a challenge for all of us, but I believe we’re up to the challenge, and we will continue over the next days to be deeply focused on it.


FOREIGN SECRETARY HAMMOND: John, thank you. Well, John, welcome to London. It’s a great pleasure to have you here. As you say, we have a huge amount to talk about today, and for the UK, our close working relationship with the United States is the cornerstone and will remain the cornerstone of our foreign policy.

I’d like to join Secretary Kerry in condemning absolutely the attack that took place in Jerusalem, and sharing in his call for leaders to step up across the board and condemn what has happened in this religious place. Both sides in this conflict need to do everything possible to de-escalate the situation and reduce the tension that we’ve seen over the past few weeks in Jerusalem, which is extremely dangerous for both Palestinian and Jewish communities in that area.

We have many other things to discuss. As Secretary Kerry said, the negotiations with Iran are coming to a head over the next few days. And while we hope for the best, we hope for a deal, we will not do a bad deal with Iran, and we are going to need to see yet more flexibility by the Iranians to convince us that their intentions in their nuclear program are entirely peaceful.

Russia has to be consistently reminded of its obligations under the Minsk protocol. At the European Council yesterday we agreed to take further measures in response to the illegal elections in the eastern region of Ukraine. We will continue to apply pressure to Russia until it complies with those obligations. And we will work together on Syria; on Iraq; as Secretary Kerry said, on Libya, another area where we have many challenges to face; and of course, on the scourge of Ebola threatening West Africa.

So if you’ll excuse us, we’ve got a lot of work to do this morning. Thank you very much.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you. Thank you, Philip.