Israel PM snubs UN atomic watchdog chief: Newspaper
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Last Updated: Tuesday, August 24, 2010, 22:32
Jerusalem: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has snubbed UN atomic watchdog chief Yukiya Amano who is on his first visit to Israel, the Haaretz newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Amano, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, had requested to meet with Netanyahu months ago, but the scheduled meeting was abruptly cancelled last week as the premier planned to go on holiday, the paper said.

It said the meeting had been due to take place yesterday afternoon, shortly after the IAEA chief landed in Israel and a few hours before the premier was due to start his holiday.

Asked about the report, a senior official who asked not to be named said he was "not aware that that is true."

The visit comes against a backdrop of demands by some members of the IAEA that Israel, generally considered to be the Middle East's sole if undeclared nuclear-armed power, sign up to the international Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Israeli President Shimon Peres, considered to be the father of Israel's nuclear programme, is due to meet Amano in Jerusalem tomorrow.

Israel is sure to raise with Amano its concerns about Iran's nuclear programme, which the Jewish state, the United States and other Western countries believe is ultimately aimed at producing an atomic bomb.

Iran, which on Saturday, began loading fuel into its Russian-built first nuclear power plant, denies the allegations, saying its programme is for civil energy purposes only.

Ties between the IAEA and Israel were chilly during the tenure of Amano's predecessor, Mohamed ElBaradei.


First Published: Tuesday, August 24, 2010, 22:32

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