Clinton: Iran outreach not open-ended

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Hillary Rodham Clinton said U.S. outreach to Iran was not open-ended and more is needed from Arab nations to bring about Palestinian-Israeli peace.

The U.S. secretary of state delivered a major foreign policy speech in Washington on Wednesday outlining the Obama administration’s foreign policy emphasis: building alliances.

Clinton drew a sharp distinction with the last administration. Insisting "they’re either with us or against us," as President Bush did, was "malpractice," Clinton said. President Obama’s alliance-building approach, she said, explains both the administration’s outreach to Iran and its consultations with a broad array of allies on the matter.

"We have consistently stated that we do not accept a nuclear-armed Iran," Clinton said in her address to the Council on Foreign Relations. "We think it is a great threat to the region and beyond."

The outreach to Iran would not last long, she suggested. "The time for action is now; the opportunity will not remain open indefinitely." She did not mention a deadline, but Obama has pledged to reassess his Iran policy at year’s end.

The president has also tried to bring Russia into the coalition to dissuade Iran from manufacturing a nuclear device; Clinton suggested such outreach was having an effect. "I’ve noticed a turn in attitudes by some, a recognition that it’s not just the United States that should be concerned about what Iran is doing," she said.

The Obama administration also has been at pains to show that it is not pressing only Israel when it comes to advancing Israeli-Palestinian talks. "While we expect action from Israel, we recognize that these decisions are politically challenging," she said. "And we know that progress toward peace cannot be the responsibility of the United States — or Israel — alone."

Clinton said that in addition to Israel slowing its settlement activities, "the Palestinians have the responsibility to improve and extend the positive actions already taken" to combat terrorists and to end incitement against Israel.

She especially emphasized the responsibility of Arab nations.

"The Saudi peace proposal, supported by more than 20 nations, was a positive step," Clinton said, referring to the 2002 idea that proposes a return to pre-1967 borders in exchange for normalization of ties, "but we believe more is needed, so we are asking those who embraced the proposal to take more steps."

She did not outline the steps, but Obama administration officials have suggested allowing Israeli commercial airlines to fly over Arab nations and enhancing business ties short of full diplomatic relations.

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