WASHINGTON , April 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice reaffirmed America's deep commitment to Israeli-Palestinian peace, and urged Arab nations to strengthen their dedication to this effort, at the opening session of the American Jewish Committee's 102nd Annual Meeting celebrating Israel's 60th anniversary.
"For sixty years, American administrations have been dedicated to the freedom, security, and well-being of our democratic ally, Israel ," said Secretary Rice. "We will defend against any action that would compromise Israel's security."
Addressing diplomats, dignitaries and nearly one thousand AJC leaders from around the world, Secretary Rice lauded AJC as a "tireless advocate for human dignity" that has fought hate and anti-Semitism, and has "strengthened the foundations of American life." She last spoke at AJC's Annual Meeting in 2002.
Discussing prospects for peace, Secretary Rice urged full cooperation on the Road Map by Israel and the Palestinians, and pressed Arab nations to embrace the "fourth track" of these negotiations, supporting peace efforts and establishing ties with the Jewish state.
She also stressed the need to isolate Hamas and other terrorist groups. "Either you are a terrorist group or a political party - you cannot be both," said Rice. "Hamas is increasingly serving as proxy warriors for Iran ."
Secretary Rice answered questions from audience members.
On a question regarding former President Jimmy Carter's recent meetings with Hamas representatives, she said, "I don't see the point of trying to negotiate with people who are determined to destroy the foundation of peace."
To a question on Iran's quest for nuclear weapons, she responded by noting the success to date of various U.S. government bodies to deny Iran access to the global financial system. She also underlined her commitment to continuing to work with China , Russia , Europe and others to isolate Iran in the international community, with the goal of preventing Iran from achieving nuclear weapons capability. She also denounced Iran's destabilizing activities throughout the Middle East , including Iraq , Afghanistan , and Gaza .
Secretary Rice concluded by noting America's dedication to closing a deal between Israelis and Palestinians this year, despite the tough choices faced by those dedicated to peace.
"Difficult decisions are coming. Difficult decisions will have to be made. But let us secure for all time a lasting peace."
SOURCE American Jewish Committee