Roundtable Interview of the President with Regional Reporters (Excerpts)

June 5, 2009

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Q First of all, Mr. President, I want to congratulate you for a great speech.


Q I believe that everybody in the region listened to it, including in my country.

One question which really worries the Israelis is Iran. In your speech you didn't indicate whether at certain point you -- or whether -- to stop the nuclearization of Iran is an American national goal which has to be fulfilled.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, keep in mind that I've been very clear on this in the past, and I will continue to be clear on the fact that an Iranian nuclear weapon would be profoundly destabilizing for the entire region. It is strongly in America's interest to prevent such a scenario.

But I believe it's in the interest of everybody in the region -- indeed, I actually think it's in Iran's interest to prevent such a scenario, because it would be a very dangerous place if everybody decides that they need to have a nuclear weapon in the neighborhood, particularly given the conflicts that exist not just between -- the tensions between Israel and Iran, but there are a wide set of conflicts that would be affected.

So my approach, as I've said, is to reach out to Iran to suggest talks without preconditions, but also to -- and as I said in my speech, to have a wide range of issues to discuss. But the issue that is time-sensitive, where we have to make progress because we are reaching a critical point, is on the issue of nuclear weapons. And so one of the things that I want to do is to put this in a broader context. I want this not just to be an American effort, or an Israeli concern, but I think it's an international concern. And as committed as I am to diplomacy, as I said in the White House just a few weeks ago, I'm not just going to talk just for talking sake. If I don't see meaningful progress in these talks, then that will indicate to me that the Islamic Republic is not serious.

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