Defense Minister Ehud Barak _311.
(photo credit: Reuters/Blaire Gable)
Defense Minister Ehud Barak is scheduled to leave for Washington on Monday for
talks expected to center on Iran, as the frequency of senior- level US-Israeli
meetings is at a pace not seen in years.
Barak will be followed to
Washington later in the week by President Shimon Peres, who will address the
annual AIPAC policy conference next Sunday, and Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu, who will speak to the conference the next day.
Both Peres and
Netanyahu will meet President Barack Obama, with Peres doing so on Sunday, and
Netanyahu on Monday.
The two men met on Friday to coordinate positions
ahead of those meetings.
The Peres-Netanyahu meeting came a day after a
report, strongly denied by Peres, claimed that the president would tell
Obama he was opposed to an Israeli attack on Iran.
Barak – who was in
Washington just two months ago and who has since hosted Gen. Martin Dempsey, the
chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff – is scheduled to meet Vice President
Joe Biden; Defense Secretary Leon Panetta; National Security Advisor Tom
Donilon, who was in Israel just last week; and Director of National Intelligence
US Ambassador Dan Shapiro said last week that the
frequency of the visits, as well as the senior levels that were involved, was
“There is no other country in the world, relationship in
the world, where senior leaders invest that kind of time to ensure that they
have total coordination,” he said.
Barak is expected to be in the US for
just over two days, returning on Thursday to brief Netanyahu before he leaves
for North America.
Netanyahu is slated to leave Thursday evening for
Ottawa, where he is set to meet with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper
before continuing on to Washington on Sunday.
Netanyahu told the weekly
cabinet meeting on Sunday that while the events in the region – including the
“deplorable massacres that we see being perpetrated against innocent civilians
in Syria” – would be among the topics discussed during his visit, there is no
doubt that the “continued strengthening of Iran and its nuclear program” will be
at the center of the talks.
Netanyahu said the newest International
Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report released over the weekend provided further
proof, to those still in need, that “Israel’s assessments were correct,” and
that “Iran is continuing to make rapid progress in its nuclear program, without
let-up, while defying and grossly ignoring the decisions of the international
The IAEA issued a report on Friday saying Iran has increased
its capacity to enrich uranium to 20 percent, while ignoring international
demands not to do so.