(Jerusalem, Israel) — After having just been in Ottawa meeting with Canadian Members of Parliament to discuss Israel and Middle East issues, I’ve now been in Israel for ten days of meetings and preparations for our upcoming Joshua Fund tour and Epicenter Conference. I was encouraged to read this morning that the Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird was recently in town to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu and other Israeli and Palestinian officials. His comments on the Iran threat were worth noting because he indicated a concrete time frame by which Iran needs to show it has ended its nuclear program or other action — decisive action — needs to be taken. Coming from the most pro-Israel government on the planet, this was encouraging. My hope is that the Foreign Minister was also laying the groundwork for a state visit by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, but there was no public report of this.
“Canada’s foreign minister has warned Iran that it has only two to three months to prove to the West that it seeks a negotiated resolution to the crisis over its rogue nuclear program,” reports the Times of Israel “The diplomatic process is ‘nearing the end,’ John Baird said in an interview with The Times of Israel, though he declined to say what consequences that could bring.”
“He added that the election to the Iranian presidency of Hasan Rouhani, seen by many as a relative moderate, does not justify any further Western patience, since Rouhani, as Iran’s former nuclear negotiator, ‘doesn’t need to have any time to read up on the files,'” reported the Times. “Baird was speaking exclusively to The Times of Israel last week during a visit to Jerusalem, where he represented Canada’s government at Shimon Peres’s Facing Tomorrow presidential conference, and met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He also went to Jordan during the trip, and held talks in Ramallah with the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and other senior PA officials.”
Other key points from the article:
If incoming president Rouhani “wants me to say something kind or generous, he’s going to have to solicit that by his actions, not by any perceived notion of being a reformer,” Baird said, adding, “These people don’t deserve the benefit of the doubt.”
Asked whether diplomacy had run its course, Baird said, “There’s always a reason to wait another two or three months… If they want to prove the naysayers wrong, they can make meaningful progress with the P5+1. I’m pessimistic on that but I hope to be proven wrong.”
The diplomatic process, he went on, “is nearing the end, and should have been nearing the end in my judgment. If Iran wants to seek out concrete, meaningful solutions to this, they have the opportunity to demonstrate to the world in the coming weeks that they’ll do that… And you have someone [in Rouhani, a former Iranian nuclear negotiator] who doesn’t need to have any time to read up on the files. This person does not need anytime to be briefed up.”
And if at the end of two or three months there isn’t some kind of concrete progress? Then, said Baird, “I think fair and reasonable people will have shown that they have taken every reasonable measure, every diplomatic measure, to try to successfully bring this to a conclusion.”
And then comes the time for intervention? “I’ll just leave it at that,” the minister said.