Barak hold talks in US on Iran, Mideast diplomacy

Last Updated: Tuesday, December 14, 2010 - 12:19

Washington: US Defence Secretary Robert
Gates held talks with Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak on the threat posed by Iran and the latest Middle East peace
efforts, a spokesman said.

A day before his meeting, Barak said that tensions over
Iran`s nuclear program were still at the diplomatic stage and
that tougher sanctions might persuade Tehran to switch course.

"This was their sixth meeting this year, and today`s
talks touched on everything from the recent wildfires in
Israel to ongoing peace process efforts to the challenges
posed by Iran," Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said in
a statement.

The morning session covered "a range of bilateral and
regional security issues," he said.

Barak also was scheduled to meet the CIA director, Leon
Panetta, and President Barack Obama`s national security
adviser, Tom Donilon.

Israel has often voiced impatience with Western diplomacy
towards Iran but Barak said on Sunday that a new round of
sanctions could still bear fruit.

"I still believe that much more active sanctions can
cause the regime to have a second thought" about pursuing nuclear weapons, he told CNN in an interview.
The US and other major powers recently resumed diplomatic
talks with Iran over the country`s disputed nuclear project,
which Tehran insists is designed for purely peaceful purposes.

Israel and the United States have refused to rule out
military action to halt Iran`s uranium enrichment work, but
Gates and other top officials have said any strike likely
would only delay the nuclear program for a few years.
The visit also came amid a bid by Washington this week to
salvage Middle East peace negotiations, with US Middle East
envoy George Mitchell arriving in Jerusalem as part of a
return to indirect talks.

Bureau Report

First Published: Tuesday, December 14, 2010 - 12:19

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