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Israel`s Barak discusses Egypt at White House

Israel fears a power vacuum in Egypt could be exploited by Islamist elements.

Updated: Feb 10, 2011, 09:48 AM IST

Washington: Israel`s Defence Minister Ehud Barak met US President Barack Obama`s most senior national security aides on Wednesday, with anxiety over Egypt dominating the foreign policy of both nations.

Barak sat down with a high-powered line up of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defence Robert Gates and Obama`s national security advisor Tom Donilon, the White House said in a statement.

With the Mubarak regime under threat of collapse, Israel fears a power vacuum could be exploited by Islamist elements determined to rescind the 1979 peace treaty between the two countries.

"Mr Donilon, Secretary Clinton and Secretary Gates discussed with Minister Barak the latest developments in Egypt, the need to move forward on Middle East peace," and other issues including Iran`s nuclear drive, the statement said.

The Obama team also repeated the frequently voiced "unshakeable" US commitment to Israel`s security, but the statement gave few concrete details of exactly what was discussed on Egypt.

The US drive to forge peace between Israel and the Palestinians had yielded little progress even before the Egypt crisis, which appears to have upended a host of American strategic assumptions in the Middle East.

But at the State Department on Wednesday, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat met George Mitchell, following a similar meeting between the US regional envoy and Israeli negotiator Yitzhak Molho last week.

"We are going to continue to engage the parties in the coming days and weeks to continue our efforts to work on the substantive issues behind the process," said State Department spokesman Philip Crowley.

Bureau Report