US Defense Secretary in Israel to discuss Iran
US Defense Secretary Robert Gates held talks in Israel on Monday as part of a US effort to restart stalled Middle East peace talks. Secretary Gates met with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak Monday morning and plans on meeting Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later in the day.
Gates’ talks centered on Iran’s disputed nuclear ambitions. He was expected to reassure Israel that the Obama administration stood with Israel in its demand that Iran abandon nuclear ambitions.
In the meeting, Barak told Gates Israel is taking “no option” off the table, in reference to Iran’s’ nuclear program. “This is our position. We mean it,” he added.
Gates responded saying the American attempt to engage Iran was “not an open-ended offer.”
Gate’s visit to Israel preceded the arrival of US Middle East envoy George Mitchell who focused on US efforts to reach peace between Israel, Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinians. After his visit to Israel, Gates is scheduled to travel to Jordan to meet with King Abdullah to discuss the American pullout of Iraq.