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Monday, January 22, 2007

Amb. Nicholas Burns: Address to Herzliya Conference

Address to Herzliya Conference

Amb. Nicholas Burns, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs
I want to start by thanking Uzi.  Uzi and I have been talking for the past couple of years about Israel's strategic involvement with NATO.  In addition I want to thank Deputy Prime Minister Mofaz.  We had a very good day together and talked about all those issues that Israel and America have at stake. The challenge of Iraq, the challenge of peace and stability in Lebanon, and the prospect of negotiations in the future of Palestinians and Israelis.

I want to begin with two thoughts to unite this conference.

What is the future between Israel and the United States in this global landscape?  To seek security and peace in a world that is very different from when this conference started a few years ago.  The issue of globalization, threats of global terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, international drug trafficking, trafficking of women and children are issues that have progressively worsened over the past 5 years.
We Americans know that we cannot defeat these issues without strong allies in this region, such as Israel. We share many common threats and pressing issues, but we also share many areas in which we can grow and flourish together. Some of these possible opportunities can be found in the sciences and technology. It is a changing world, and countries with like minded goals and beliefs that are willing to work together ought to do well in the future. Given the talents of our peoples we have a chance to negotiate on an international level successfully in the future.
As you take a global perception, The United States of America is in a position of advantage; it has recently undergone a breakthrough in their relations with both India and Pakistan.
United States is now engaging in a global partnership with India, and there has been major development with the US's relations with China. Progress that we hope to forge into the 6 party talks. 

The American position is very strong and established. If you take a trip around the world to Africa, you can see that that there has never been such strong American involvement in the region.  There is hope that the Sudan, Darfur, and Somalia will seek a positive intervention of UN.
In Latin America, Hugo Chavez and the Castro brothers are alive, but in 2006 there has been a movement towards pro democratic and pro market Governments in countries like Brazil, Chile, that wish to have relations with America.

When you turn to Europe. Many thought that due to disagreements between France and Germany over the war in Iraq that American relationships with Europe would be weakened.  However, we have rebuilt those bridges with our European Allies.  Our strategic partnership with Europe is as strong as it could have been this year.
American global position of leadership is strong, but there is no question that America's most vital strategic interests are in Middle East.
We are looking at 4 challenges.
President Bush gave a speech ten days ago in regards to Iraq in which he made a very important decision that credibility means success, and that we cannot just walk away because it is difficult.  The only way to bring stability is to stay and to make an effort to help the Iraqi government to retain its footing.
In Lebanon French President Chirac is hosting a conference at which Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will attend. The goal of the conference is for Democratic nations to come together and produce efficient plans to stand up against Hezbollah, and defend themselves from countries harboring militants like Syria, Iran.
In your country, Secretary Rice was just here and very pleased with her meetings with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.  We have to take the opportunity that exists to reignite negotiations between Israelis and the Palestinians. What can we do to support Abu Mazen, and ensure that the policies of Hamas are rejected, as they can not lead to any positive outcomes.
On Iran I just have a few remarks. In Iran we face an important challenge. It may be the most important challenge that we face today. Iran is a country with a radical government, a radical agenda and wishes to be the most important country in the Middle East. They are governed by a President that has denied holocaust, and has aided in many conflicts in the region.
Iran played a negative role in these conflicts, by funding and directing Hezbollah attacks, providing technology that is killing Americans and British in Iraq, and the continued attempt by
Iran to bring down Lebanese government.
Iran through its policies has caused a severe reaction through the United States, which has since caused an increase in the US's adoption of seeking out intelligence and paramilitary information regarding the State.

What does this all mean?  The USA has the right to defend its interests in this region. The USA since WWII has considered itself the garanteer of stability.
For 18 and half years Iran has withheld information from IAEA.  For the past year Europe, Russia, and the US have been trying to negotiate a middle ground with Iraq.  The bottom line is that Iran can not be allowed to become a nuclear state. 
There are two paths that the Western world can take as far as Iran is concerned- one path is negotiation.  The second path is the passage of a Security Council Resolution.  The Resolution has not accomplished anything.  Iran is one of 11 countries subject to chapter 7 sanctions.  If by February 21, Iran does not stop its nuclear activity than it will become an
international pariah.  My country doesn't believe that we should stop there.  We want to put greater pressure on Iran.  We are encouraging our friends not to sell arms to Iran.  Russia and China have sold missiles to Iran, but we are hoping that they will stop in the future.
We are encouraging the EU to end export credits with Iran.  We suggest to Europeans that the 14 billion euros earmarked to stimulate trade should be stopped.  International financial institutions are rethinking business in Iran. 
There are lots of things that the world can do to make Iran realize that there is a cost for their behavior. The United States does not seek confrontation with Iran; however the US has left all of the options on the table.  First and foremost we are seeking a diplomatic solution.  The offer to negotiate still stands.  We are hoping that Iran will take that offer.  Secretary Condoleza Rice has committed to personally lead these negotiations.  Iran must make the choice that it is going to work with us and not against us.  Again, the USA does not seek confrontations with Iran.  Iran should expect that we and other countries will defend our interests of peace and stability in the Middle East.  Iran is the country that is being isolated for this reason.  Iran needs to learn to respect the power and will of the international community. 
Iran is no longer on the offensive, but is rather on the defensive.  We are hoping that the Iranian people are against their current leaders, who do not have their best interests in mind.
Some final words about Israel.  We are committed to our alliance with Israel.  We continue to be Israel's strongest security partner.  Our meeting today was a very useful exchange.  The USA and Israel have similar strategic interests. 
Twenty years ago I worked in the American Consulate in Jerusalem.  I can't remember a time that the relationship between our two countries was as strong as it is today.

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