Though he offered few details on what President Obama might say in his speech about the Middle East and North Africa scheduled for Thursday, White House press secretary Jay Carney offered a tantalizing hint, saying the president would make news and offer “specific, new” ideas about U.S. foreign policy in the region.
“He’s using this opportunity to step back and talk about what we’ve seen, what’s transpired, the approach that he’s taken in applying the core principles that he holds to the whole region,” Carney said of the speech. He has cautioned several times that it will be a broad speech meant for a broad audience, and not just narrowly focused on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
Carney used the podium to encourage both sides to come to the negotiating table, as Obama did earlier on Tuesday after a meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah II. The president is also scheduled to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, the day after his speech, and to address the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on Sunday.
Carney firmly denied reports that there are drafts of the president’s speech circulating, and as a result refused to address the rumored contents of those drafts – that the president will call on Israel to return to 1967 borders.
“We have not shared a draft of that speech with anyone outside the administration,” Carney said.