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Remarks With Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Before Their Meeting

Location: Jerusalem, Israel

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: Well, good morning. It's my pleasure to welcome my friend John Kerry to Jerusalem. We have two big items on our agenda every time we meet, and this time again.

The first is Iran. We just marked the event 34 years ago when the American Embassy was seized and we heard the chants, "Death to America." We heard that two days ago again in Tehran, and this is, I believe, the true face of this regime or the person who controls this regime, the so-called Supreme Leader. I think that this attitude buttressed by a policy of terror worldwide supporting Hezbollah, Hamas, and all the forces that are against peace participating in a mass murder in Syria -- I think such a regime must not have the world's most dangerous weapons.

We've spoken about it many times, and I believe that as long as they continue their goal to enrich uranium to get nuclear weapons, the pressure should be maintained and even increased because they're increasing enrichment. And I believe that it's possible, with intense pressure because of the sanctions regime led in large part by the United States, to get Iran to fully dismantle its nuclear weapons program. And that's really what we're seeking -- a full, peaceful, complete dismantling of Iran's nuclear weapons capability, end of all enrichment, end of all centrifuges, end of the plutonium reactor.

If this is achieved, I'd welcome it. I'd be very worried of any partial deals that enable Iran to maintain those capabilities but begin to reduce sanctions because this could have -- I think this could undermine the longevity and durability of the sanctions regime.

We seek peace with the Palestinians. We've spoken, John, many, many times about this, and because of your efforts, we launched several months ago an initiative to seek a peaceful agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. I want peace with the Palestinians; Israel wants peace with the Palestinians. We agreed three months ago on certain terms. We stand by those terms. We abide scrupulously by the terms of the agreement and the understanding on which we launched the negotiations.

I'm concerned about their progress because I see the Palestinians continuing with incitement, continuing to create artificial crises, continuing to avoid, run away from the historic decisions that are needed to make a genuine peace. I hope that your visit will help steer them back to a place where we could achieve the historical peace that we seek and that our people deserve.

And I welcome you again. Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, Prime Minister, thank you very much. Thank you, Bibi, for again making time and being here to be part of this really critical process.

We are in the Rabin Suite here, and last night I had the privilege of visiting the site where violence took the life of a great prime minister who was moving towards peace. And I'd often heard President Clinton talk about the meaning of that loss and that moment to the loss of an opportunity for peace.

So I'm honored to be in the Rabin Suite meeting with the Prime Minister of Israel at a moment where we are in critical talks with respect to the possibilities of a long, long sought goal here in the Middle East. Israel deserves security, deserves to live in peace. The Palestinians deserve a state and deserve to live in peace, and that is what we are working towards.

This is a moment where there are many issues of great consequence on the table. As I sit here, a team is arriving in Geneva and they will be negotiating tomorrow with the P5+1 on Iran, on the very topic that Bibi just raised. Our goal is an Iran that has only a peaceful nuclear program, and indeed we must make certain -- it is incumbent on us, a responsibility of the world to know with certainty that it is a peaceful program and there is no capacity to produce a weapon of mass destruction. That's our goal. And as I have said many times, no deal is better than a bad deal. We will not make a bad deal if a deal can be made at all. And we will be pursuing that carefully.

Even as we are here, we're also meeting in Geneva and in other efforts to try to move forward on Syria. The impact of Syria on this region cannot be overstated. Massive numbers of refugees, enormous violence, now the potential of disease -- polio -- a breakdown of the health system -- perhaps even if we don't succeed, the destruction of the state of Syria with all of those dangerous implications.

And then of course, finally, this issue of peace between Israel and the Palestinians. We are now three months into this negotiation. There are always difficulties, always tensions. I'm very confident of our ability to work through them. That's why I'm here. We will spend serious time this morning. I will meet with President Abbas this afternoon. Again this evening, the Prime Minister and I and his team will share a working dinner, and we'll work as late as it takes. And again tomorrow, I will be here in the region and working on this.

So I hope that we will continue in the good faith that brought the parties together in the first place that this can be achieved. With good faith, with a serious effort on both sides to make real compromises and hard decisions, this can be achieved. President Obama sees the road ahead, as do I, and we share a belief in this process or we wouldn't put this time into it. So I look forward to the conversations we'll have beginning today, and I respect everybody's patience with us that we are not talking every day about what we're doing. We need the space to negotiate privately, secretly, quietly, and we will continue to do that. We have six months ahead of us on the timetable we've set for ourselves, and I'm confident that we have the ability to make progress.


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