AFP: Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak will fly to Washington next week for talks with his counterpart Robert Gates and senior officials set to focus on Iran's nuclear ambitions, an official said.
JERUSALEM (AFP) — Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak will fly to Washington next week for talks with his counterpart Robert Gates and senior officials set to focus on Iran's nuclear ambitions, an official said.
The defence minister was also planning to meet Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Obama's National Security Adviser James Jones and special Middle East envoy George Mitchell, the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Barak's visit comes on the heels of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's White House meeting with President Barack Obama last week, which revealed discord between the two close allies on the stagnant Middle East peace process.
However, Obama eased Israeli concerns over his efforts to persuade Iran to halt its nuclear programme in direct negotiations, with the president saying the success of the dialogue would be assessed by the year's end.
"This dialogue ought to be short and should have milestones to check whether it is serious or not," Barak told army radio. "I believe the chances that talks will halt Iran's nuclear programme are very low."
The former chief of staff reiterated that the Jewish state would not rule out military action against nuclear sites in the Islamic republic.
"Israel believes that no option should be removed from the table," he said.
Israel, widely considered to be the Middle East's sole if undeclared nuclear armed power, suspects Iran is using its nuclear programme to develop atomic weapons, a charge Tehran has long denied.
Barak was also expected to discuss US arms sales to Israel, including a request to buy up to 75 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters in a deal worth as much as 15.2 billion dollars and other advanced weapon systems, the official said.