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Middle East peace “a when, not an if”, says US diplomat

Speech to Lib Dem Friends of Israel on eve of UN peace talks

Greg Berry, Minister Counsellor for Political Affairs at the US Embassy in


London, spoke to Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel’s (LDFI) fringe meeting at
the party conference in Bournemouth last night (Monday 21 September). Mr
Berry has deep diplomatic experience of the Middle East (see biography on
Page 2).

Ahead of Tuesday’s UN meeting between President Obama, Israeli Prime


Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian President Abbas, Mr Berry outlined the
US Government’s “clear and straightforward policy” on Israel/Palestine. This
policy is centred on what Mr Berry called an “unshakeable” commitment to
Israel’s security.

“A two-state solution is the only viable means of bringing a comprehensive


peace to the region,” said Mr Berry, pledging his government’s “continuing
engagement” to bring this about. Mr Berry stated that the US sees “a peace
agreement resolving all outstanding issues, bringing the conflict to an end”, as
“a when, not an if”.

Regarding Tuesday’s UN talks, Mr Berry said: “We fully expect contacts


tomorrow to move us in the right direction”. On relations between the Obama
administration and Israel, he said: “It is not a question of pressure between
friends.” On Iran’s nuclear programme, he said that, while the current policy
of engagement must be given time to work, his government could eventually
grow “impatient” and move to support tougher sanctions against Iran (as
stated in Secretary of State Clinton’s recent speech to the Brookings
Institution).

Also speaking were Talya Lador-Fresher, the Israeli Deputy Ambassador, and
the Right Honourable Sir Alan Beith MP (President, LDFI). The meeting was
chaired by Cllr Monroe Palmer OBE (Chairman, LDFI).

Ms Lador-Fresher told the meeting that Israel’s approach to the peace


process with the Palestinians is three-pronged: economic, security and
political. Drawing attention to the West Bank’s economic growth rate of 7%,
she said that 12 out of 14 major West Bank road blocks are now open 24
hours a day, seven days a week. Welcoming Tuesday’s UN meeting, she
pointed out that PM Netanyahu’s opinion poll rating had risen after he had
committed to engaging with the peace process, demonstrating the Israeli
public’s ongoing support for peace.

LDFI spokesman Matthew Harris said: “This was an exciting opportunity to


hear the latest news on American efforts towards an Israeli/Palestinian peace
agreement.”

A biography of Greg Berry is appended below as page two.

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Biography of Greg Berry

Gregory L Berry began his assignment as Minister Counsellor for Political


Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in London on August 6, 2008.

Mr Berry was Chargé d'Affaires ad interim of the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli,


Libya, from May 2006 until November 2006. From June 2004 until May 2006,
he was Principal Officer of the US Liaison Office in Libya. For his service in
Libya, Mr Berry has received a Presidential Meritorious Service Award, the
State Department's Distinguished Honour Award, and other awards in
recognition of Embassy Tripoli’s reporting and policy management.

From November 2006 until August of 2008, Mr Berry served on the Board of
Examiners for the Foreign Service.

A career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Mr Berry entered the Foreign
Service in 1979. He has served as Director for Egypt and North Africa,
Deputy Chief of Mission in Amman and Beirut, and Deputy Executive
Secretary in the Department of State Secretariat. His overseas assignments
also include Lisbon, La Paz and Jerusalem.

Mr Berry received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Mississippi and
his master’s degree and doctorate from Yale University.