Secretary John Kerry Welcomes Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman at the State Department - IMG_1085 on Flickr.
SECRETARY KERRY: Good afternoon, everybody. It’s my great privilege to welcome Avigdor Lieberman, the foreign minister of Israel, here to the State Department and to Washington. We have gotten to see each other at a number of different places now. We most recently were in Rome together where we talked about the issues before both our countries and the region.
And today, I’m really happy to be able to welcome him here. Obviously, we are working hard to try to find a way forward. And both parties indicate they would like to find a way to go forward in the talks. We obviously want to see that happen. We think it’s important for them and for the region. So we will, needless to say, talk about that.
But we also have many other issues to work on and cooperate on together. We will talk about Iran and the challenge of the Iranian nuclear program. The talks have been going on even this week, so we have a considerable amount to try to digest with respect to that process. And also the region, obviously, faces enormous challenges. Syria remains a humanitarian catastrophe, and it has a profound impact on Israel, on Jordan, on Lebanon, on the region as a whole. And we continue to face the challenge of removing the chemical weapons from Iran. I just literally hung up the phone a few minutes ago before I came out to meet the foreign minister. I was talking to Foreign Minister Lavrov and we were talking about the need for movement in Syria and the ability to complete the task.
So I’m very happy that the foreign minister is here today. This is an important time. The issues between us are of concern to both of us, are of enormous importance. And I want to affirm this: Our relationship with Israel, as everybody knows, is an historic and deep one. We remain totally committed to the security of Israel. We have a friendship that is, I believe, a bond that’s unbreakable, and I’m really happy to have the foreign minister here at this important time. Thank you.
FOREIGN MINISTER LIEBERMAN: Thank you. First of all, thank you for the very warm welcome, and as you mentioned, we have a lot of items on our bilateral agenda. But first of all, I would like to express my appreciation for your efforts, for your commitment to our state, your efforts to resolve our long dispute with the Palestinians. We know and everybody in Israel knows that you are really a very close friend, reliable friend, and now we’re in the midst of a very crucial process.
And I think that you and us have the same desire to achieve comprehensive solution, to achieve final status agreement. We’re ready to sacrifice a lot for this goal. We proved our desire to achieve real peace with our neighbors, not only as a lip service, but in all our agreements that we signed with Egypt, with Jordan. We gave up territories three and a half times more than our territory today – Sinai, half of Judea Samaria, Gaza Strip. And I think that we really – we are looking for the same positive approach from the other side, and we think that any unilateral steps, they only can undermine all our efforts.
Of course, the biggest challenge for us, for all our region, is the Iranian issue, and I hope that we will discuss, of course, the Iranian issue. And of course we are (inaudible) now to the huge concern with Syria and what happens within Syria. The spillover of the Syrian conflict is all around us. And we are monitoring and following the situation in Syria, of course, and it’s a new – a very serious challenge for our country, and again, thank you for your efforts and for your commitment.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, Avigdor.
FOREIGN MINISTER LIEBERMAN: Thank you.
SECRETARY KERRY: Welcome. Thank you all very much. Thank you.