Secretary of State John Kerry attended the United Nations General Assembly last week in New York, where he participated in nearly 60 meetings with heads of state, foreign ministers, and civil society leaders. Among the notable issues discussed were counterterrorism and climate change, which are critical to U.S. security interests. Secretary Kerry also met with his Iranian counterpart, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, for the highest level face-to-face talks between the United States and Iran since the hostage crisis 33 years ago.
In the midst of his visit to New York, the Secretary took time to participate in an interview with Scott Pelley of “60 Minutes,” which aired Sunday on CBS. If you haven’t had a chance to watch the interview, I encourage you to do so. You can find it here on CBS’s website.
Here’s what I took away from the Secretary’s interview: Iran needs to take clear and convincing steps to live up to the international community's requirements regarding peaceful nuclear programs. The United States will not lift sanctions on Iran until it is clear that a verifiable, accountable, transparent process is in place. Secretary Kerry emphasized that no deal is better than a bad deal. And he reminded viewers that President Obama has made it clear: Iran will not have a nuclear weapon. We want to solve the problem peacefully. We are grateful to President Rouhani and to Iran’s supreme leader for their stated desire to seek a negotiated settlement. By far, diplomacy is the preferred way to proceed. If we can verify that Iran’s nuclear program is a peaceful one, our relationship with Iran and its people can change dramatically for the better -- and it can change quickly.
As an American citizen, I’m encouraged to hear about progress in our relationship with Iran. As a former journalist and now the Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, I’m heartened to see the Secretary making media and public engagements, such as his “60 Minutes” interview, a priority. As Secretary Kerry has said, there is no longer anything foreign about foreign policy –- and that’s why it’s more important than ever before to communicate timely and accurate information about U.S. diplomacy to the American public. I am as committed as the Secretary is to making sure we engage domestic and international media and the American public. And I want to begin by hearing from you –- tell me what issues matter most to you. What are the topics you want to discuss?
About the Author: Douglas Frantz serves as Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs.