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Kerry visits Persian Gulf to sell allies on Iran deal

After campaigning on Capitol Hill, Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to the Middle East to promote the Iran nuclear agreement. In Qatar, he suggested that a nuclear deal might change Iran's aggressive actions in neighboring states. But Kerry did not stop in Israel, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has condemned the pact. Judy Woodruff reports.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Secretary of State John Kerry was in the Persian Gulf today, trying to sell the Iran nuclear deal to Gulf Arab allies.

    Publicly, at least, the mission seemed like an easier lift than his recent to visits to Capitol Hill, but opposition in some parts of the region remains strong.

    Kerry arrived in Qatar with the message that a nuclear deal might change Iran's aggressive actions in neighboring states.

    JOHN KERRY, Secretary of State: Obviously, we all know about the support for Hezbollah, the support for Shia militia in Iraq, the support for the Houthi, other involvements in the region, support for terror historically, which we have opposed and we continue to oppose and we will oppose going forward in the future.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Privately, many of the Gulf Arab leaders who met with Kerry have expressed fear that a nuclear deal will only embolden Iran. But publicly, at least, the Qatari foreign minister offered mostly support.

  • KHALID AL-ATTIYAH, Foreign Minister, Qatar (through interpreter):

    Kerry let us know that there's going to be oversight for Iran not to gain or to get any nuclear weapons. This is reassuring to the region. Furthermore, we hope that we are going to have a kind of a ban of nuclear weapons not only to Iran, but to all the Middle East.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Before his stop in Qatar, Kerry had been in Egypt. He skipped Israel, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been outspoken in condemning the Iran pact.

  • PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, Israel (through interpreter):

    The Iranians don't even make an effort to hide the fact that they will use the hundreds of billions of dollars they will receive in this deal to arm their terror machine. And they say clearly that they would continue their fight against the United States and its allies headed by Israel.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Defense Secretary Ash Carter did visit Israel last month, but Netanyahu wasn't mollified. The Israeli leader plans to address American Jewish communities in a Webcast tomorrow.

    Meanwhile, Kerry travels on to East Asia, where he will focus on concerns about China's pursuit of territorial claims in the region.

    We take closer look now at the reaction to the Iran deal in the Middle East.

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