U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing by Department Spokesman Ian Kelly
excerpt (about 23 or 24 minutes in)
QUESTION: Do you think there could be a peace in the Middle East without Iran’s interference? Because since Iranian president has been calling – wipe off Israel from the map and all those things?
MR. KELLY: Well, this Administration’s approach to the Middle East peace process is a comprehensive, regional approach. And yeah, we would expect all players, all partners in the region, to contribute towards that.
QUESTION: Iran is a player?
MR. KELLY: I’m sorry?
QUESTION: Iran is a player in —
MR. KELLY: Iran is – has, of course, not played a very constructive role with its export of terrorism and with the kind of rhetoric that we’ve seen. We’d like to see it do more to contribute towards Middle East peace.
QUESTION: Yesterday, Vice President Biden said it’s up to Israel to determine whether or not it’s going to strike any targets in Iran. Would Israel let the United States know before they were going to make such a strike?
MR. KELLY: You have to ask Israel that. That’s not to say that Israel’s going to make a strike.
QUESTION: Is that the U.S. Government policy, that it’s ultimately up to Israel to make such a determination?
MR. KELLY: Well, first of all, let me just step back a minute and – our goal here is to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. When I say “our,” I don’t mean just the U.S. This is the – it’s the international community. So – and we’re – so our approach right now is to be very engaged with international partners to get Iran to fulfill its obligations and responsibilities and to fully cooperate with the IAEA, as detailed in United Nations Security Council resolutions.
Having said that, Israel is a sovereign country. We’re not going to dictate its actions. We’re also committed to Israel’s security. And we share Israel’s deep concerns about Iran’s nuclear program. But for questions about what they plan to do in response to this, I really have to refer you to the Israeli Government.
QUESTION: What —
QUESTION: Are you concerned at all that by saying Israel is a sovereign country and we’re not going to dictate to them what their actions are, that your words, like the Vice President’s words, may be interpreted as sort of a green light.
MR. KELLY: I certainly would not want to give a green light to any kind of military action. But I mean, what – our policy is that we – that Israel is a sovereign country and we’re not going to dictate its actions.
QUESTION: Well, why do you have to say it? I mean —
MR. KELLY: (Laughter.) Because it is what it is.
QUESTION: Shakespeare or not. (Laughter.) Doth protest too much.
MR. KELLY: Yes.
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