WASHINGTON (JTA) — Secretary of State John Kerry said President Obama would prefer to avoid considering military action against Iran, but Iran’s failure to seriously negotiate makes “confrontation more possible.”
Kerry, interviewed by ABC News in Doha, Qatar, during his first overseas trip in his new job, refused to discuss differences between the United States and Israel over “red lines” that could trigger a military strike.
“I’m not going to get into red lines and timing publicly except to reiterate what the president has said again and again, which is he prefers to have a diplomatic solution,” Kerry said.
“He would like to see the P5+1 process, the negotiation process, be able to work, and avoid any consideration of any military action,” Kerry said, referring to the major powers negotiating with Iran.
Kerry said he expected a serious proposal from the Iranians when they meet with representatives from the United States, Russia, China, Germany, France and Britain in Istanbul later this month.
“If they keep pushing the limits and not coming with a serious set of proposals or are prepared to actually resolve this, obviously, the risks get higher and confrontation becomes more possible,” he said.
In a separate interview with NPR, Kerry said Egypt’s role in brokering last November’s cease-fire between Israel and Hamas and keeping the peace on its border with Israel informed his decision to release $190 million in assistance funds to the Egyptians. That decision was made over the objections of some in Congress who are concerned about the course that Egypt’s Islamist government is taking.
“Egypt has been — was critical in helping to bring out peace in the Gaza Strip,” Kerry said. “President [Mohamed] Morsi personally intervened. President Morsi has personally helped to make sure that that peace has held, and he is cooperating with Israel on the security in the Sinai and cooperating with Israel in terms of extremism and intelligence.”
“So for the American people, the amount of money that we’re investing in Egypt compared to its importance to us in the region for stability, for peace, for the future possibilities, is minuscule,” he said.