US army chief holds ‘Iran talks’ in Israel
US army chief Gen. Dempsey (L) shakes hands with Israeli President Peres. AFP photoThe U.S. military’s top general conducted an intense string of closed talks with Israeli leaders on Jan. 20, amid apparent disagreements between the two countries over how to respond to Iran’s nuclear program.
The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, and Israeli leaders kept silent about the exact content of their discussions. Dempsey was expected to urge Israel not to rush to attack Iran at a time when the U.S. is trying to rally additional global support to pressure Tehran through sanctions to dial back its nuclear development program.
Dempsey met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been warning about the dangers of the Iranian nuclear program for more than a decade. No details of their talks were released. At the start of a meeting with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Dempsey said the U.S. and Israel “have many interests in common in the region in this very dynamic time, and the more we can continue to engage each other, the better off we’ll all be.” “There is never a dull moment, that I can promise you,” Barak replied, in comments released by Barak’s office.Israel believes Iran is close to completing the technology to produce an atomic weapon. Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. Israel has said it prefers employing international diplomacy to solve the problem, but it has not taken the option of a military strike off the table.
Gen. Dempsey also met with Israel’s military chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, and President Shimon Peres. Peres’s office said that at the meeting with Dempsey and Gantz, they had “discussed the political-security developments in the Middle East and the world.” “I am sure that we shall win this battle,” Peres said in remarks carried by public radio, apparently alluding to Iran.
Compiled from AFP and AP stories by the Daily News staff.