Kerry denies US retreat from world, says more engaged than ever
Secretary of state John Kerry on Friday hit back at criticism that the US was retreating from the Middle East and the rest of the world.world Updated: Jan 25, 2014 01:10 IST
Secretary of state John Kerry on Friday hit back at criticism that the US was retreating from the Middle East and the rest of the world.
"Far from disengaging, America is proud to be more engaged than ever, and, I believe, is playing as critical a role as ever in the pursuit of global peace, prosperity, and stability," he told a gathering of political and business leaders in Switzerland.
Kerry highlighted US efforts to kickstart the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, a push to rid Syria of its chemical weapons and a landmark deal with Iran to rein in its nuclear programme.
"Intensive, creative and strong diplomacy requires cooperation — and that is exactly why the United States is so engaged in the Middle East and around the world, and why we will stay so," the top US diplomat told the World Economic Forum meeting in the mountain town of Davos.
"As our friends and partners take courageous steps forward, they can be assured that President Obama and his administration will remain engaged for the long haul. But we will also confront these challenges with the urgency that they deserve. We dare not — and I can assure you we will not — miss this moment."
Amid turbulence and upheaval across many Arab countries, including the war in Syria, the US administration's foreign policy in the Middle East has been heavily criticised at home and by key Gulf allies for lacking focus.
Fresh from trying to push the Syrian opposition and the regime to start direct peace talks during a conference earlier this week, Kerry launched back into the faltering Middle East peace process.
He met on Friday in Davos with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for almost two hours, during which they discussed ways to draw up a framework to guide the talks for the months ahead.
The US-brokered peace talks that began in July, after a three-year hiatus in direct negotiations, have faltered over seemingly irreconcilable demands from both sides, failing to bring any glimpse of a final agreement that would end decades of conflict.
Kerry, who has made 11 trips to Israel and the West Bank in his first year in office, is trying to hammer out a framework deal to chart the talks going forward, which would set down guidelines on the toughest issues such as the contours of a future Palestinian state and the fate of Jerusalem for the months ahead.
The two sides have agreed to stay at the negotiating table for nine months, until sometime in late April.