Former SecDef Calls for Peace Talks, Two State Solution

Gulf News
December 11, 2006 Monday

CALME Luminary Secretary William S. Cohen, former Secretary of Defense, supports ISG recommendation for peace talks in the Middle East.

COHEN BACKS BAKER REPORT ON PEACE TALKS

A former US defence secretary yesterday said he fully agreed with the recommendation in the Baker-Hamilton report to help revive peace talks in the Middle East.

“I am well aware that it is part of the dilemma here, but I see that the population cannot be supportive of the US because they are angry. I have long supported the two-state solution and I believe that the Palestinians need to live in dignity and welfare and that the Israelis also need security,” William Cohen told Gulf News on the sidelines of the three-day Manama Dialogue.

However, Cohen, a Republican who headed the Department of Defence from 1997 to 2001 under Democrat President Bill Clinton, said that the two-state solution could be achieved only when there are willing parties.

“Hamas cannot be trusted if it refuses to recognise Israel and toes the Iranian line calling for its destruction,” he said.

However, the former official who now heads the Cohen Group blamed the US administration for not doing enough to empower Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

“We did not build roads or provide the social services that would have shown the people what the US can do in terms of assistance. Now, Hamas is offering some of these services thanks to funds from Iran,” he said.

Cohen said that Iran’s refusal to create a uranium enrichment joint venture in Russia was an indication that its programme was for military purposes.

“Iran’s history makes it difficult to trust their claim that their nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes. Their behaviour in Iraq and Lebanon, their fuelling of the insurgency and their funding of bloodshed do not support their claim,” he said.

He warned that Iran and the region would be the “big losers in the long run”.

“Iran may be content with the situation now, but in the long run it will jeopardise the whole region,” he said.

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Explore posts in the same categories: CALME Luminaries, Iran, Israel, Middle East Peace, Palestinians, U.S. Role

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