"I'm perplexed by claims I occasionally hear that somehow America
is disengaging from the world — this myth that America is pulling
back, or giving up, or standing down. In fact, nothing could be
further from the truth," Kerry told the World Economic Forum in
His remarks were seen partly as a response to Saudi Prince Turki
al-Faisal, a former intelligence chief, who told a Davos panel
earlier on Friday that the world was disappointed with a "sense of
no direction" in U.S. foreign policy.
Kerry cited U.S. involvement with issues from Israel to Iran to
Syria and in Asia and Africa to counter a similar view expressed by
others in the Middle East and by critics in the United States.
He said it was based on a false assumption that the only tool of
U.S. influence was its military. "If we don't have a huge troop
presence or aren't brandishing an immediate threat of force, we are
somehow absent from the arena," Kerry said.
"You can't find another country — not one country — as proactively
engaged or that is partnering with so many Middle Eastern countries
as constructively as we are, on so many high-stake fronts," he said.
While in Davos, Kerry has continued his pursuit of an
Israeli-Palestinian deal, holding talks with Israeli Prime Minister
And Kerry defended an agreement among world powers and Iran to
curtail Tehran's nuclear program, although he insisted that Iran's
compliance needed to be verified.
[to top of second column]
"Iran must meet this test," Kerry said. "If it does, the Middle East
will be a safer place, free from the fear of a nuclear arms race.
And diplomatic engagement, backed by sanctions and other options,
will have proved its worth."
Kerry, who attended the launch of Syrian peace talks on Tuesday in
Montreux, Switzerland, said a political solution was the only way to
resolve the crisis, and he reiterated that Syrian President Bashar
al-Assad had no place in the country's future.
(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; editing by David Storey, Toni
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