Friday, February 24, 2012

Ambassador: US, Israel have ‘total cooperation’ on Iran

The Hill
Jeremy Herb

The U.S. ambassador to Israel said Thursday there is total cooperation between the United States and Israel on Iran, as he sought to downplay public divisions that have emerged in recent weeks between the two countries.

Speaking to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in Jerusalem, Ambassador Dan Shapiro said reports of distrust between Israel and the United States are pure speculation, and much of it is wrong, according to JTA.

I cannot think of any issue on which we are better coordinated than on the issue of Iran, Shapiro said.

U.S. and Israeli officials, however, have not presented such a unified front recently, in the lead-up to a meeting next month between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in an interview with CNN Sunday that an Israeli strike would have a destabilizing effect in the Middle East. 

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman then said in an Israeli television interview Wednesday that Israels decision to attack Iran is not the business of the United States or others.

Talk of a strike to prevent Irans nuclear program from developing a weapon has spiked in recent weeks, as Iran continues to show defiance in the face of sanctions. Iran said its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only, while the United States, Israel and their allies suspect Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon.

The Washington Post reported recently that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta believes theres a strong possibility that Israel will attack Iran in the spring, something Panetta did not deny.
Ahead of Obama and Netanyahus White House meeting, National Security Adviser Tom Donilon visited with Netanyahu and other top Israeli officials last week in Israel. Dempsey also made a trip to the country recently.

Both Obama and Netanyahu are scheduled to speak at the annual AIPAC conference the first weekend in March.


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