Foreign Policy’s Josh Rogin interviews Secretary of State Hillary Clinton before the start of the IISS Manama Security Dialogue set for this weekend and next week’s P5+1 meetings in Geneva.
Clinton set out her expectations for the meeting, telling Rogin that when the P5+1 meet in Geneva, “We have to see what attitude [the Iranians] bring.”
I don’t think we can put timetables on it. This is more of a day-by-day assessment. We know where we’re headed, and that is to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. We know we have the vast majority of the world with us on that. But I think we’re going to have to take stock of where we are after Geneva… The pressure’s not lifting because they’re coming to the table in Geneva. And then we’ll take it step by step.
Clinton told Rogin that she believes the Iranians are coming to the Geneva talks only because sanctions have taken a greater toll than they had anticipated.
[F]rom all that we hear from people in this region and beyond, they’re worried about the impact [of sanctions]. And so they’re returning to Geneva and we hope they are returning to negotiate.
But progress on negotiations would be based on more than just the nuclear issue.
Clinton told Rogin:
We’ll have to see how the Iranians respond on other things we’ve engaged them on, such as the two hikers who are still there in prison and [former FBI agent Robert] Levinson, who is also in Iran in our opinion. So let’s see where it goes.”
In her remarks at the opening of the Manama Security Dialogue in Bahrain, Clinton emphasized the importance of engagement and the upcoming P5+1 meetings beginning on Monday.
Nearly two years ago, President (Barack) Obama extended your government a sincere offer of dialogue. We are still committed to this offer.
We continue to make this offer of engagement with respect for your sovereignty and with regard for your interests, but also with an ironclad commitment to defending global security and the world’s interests in a peaceful and prosperous Gulf region.
She told the audience in Bahrain, which included Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, that the United States acknowledges Iran’s “right to a peaceful nuclear program” but warned that Iran must “fully address the world’s concerns about your nuclear activities.”