In the US, Ashkenazi focuses talks on Iran

Meetings also touch on West Bank, arming of Hamas and Hizbullah and the "Goldstone saga."

By HILARY LEILA KRIEGER, JERUSALEM POST CORRESPOND
March 10, 2010 04:13
1 minute read.
IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi

ashkenazi in washington 311. (photo credit: IDF Spokesperson)

 
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WASHINGTON – IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi held consultations on Iran with his American counterpart and other key US figures during a visit to Washington that concluded Tuesday.

After Ashkenazi had breakfast with Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, each accompanied by his wife, the two held a one-and-a-half-hour private meeting that an Ashkenazi aide described as “very warm and very open.”

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On Monday night, he also met for an hour and a half with US National Security Adviser James Jones. Ahead of their talks, he spoke to Republican Senator John McCain and Independent Senator Joe Lieberman on Capitol Hill, and US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice at the State Department.

In addition to Iran, Ashkenazi reviewed the situation in the West Bank and warned against the arming of Hamas and Hizbullah.

The meeting with Rice also touched on the “Goldstone saga,” according to the aide, referring to the UN-sponsored report accusing Israel of war crimes in its confrontation with Hamas last winter.

But its main purpose was to review the UN sanctions process, as the US tries to shepherd another resolution through the Security Council to sanction Iran.

Western countries have been meeting with resistance from Russia and China, and the process has been taking longer than original estimates. While some officials had spoken of a resolution coming by the end of February, the month in which France held the rotating Security Council chair, the process could drag into April or further.


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Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon is also in Washington trying to speed up the sanctions process. He is due to meet with deputy secretaries of state Jim Steinberg and Jack Lew and Under-Secretary for Political Affairs William Burns at the State Department, as well as with several members of Congress, over Wednesday and Thursday.

The schedule includes House minority whip Eric Cantor, House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Howard Berman, HFAC Middle East Subcommittee chairman Gary Ackerman and House appropriations Middle East Subcommittee chairwoman Nita Lowey.

“He’s continuing the intense dialogue with the administration in terms of how we see things [and] getting effective sanctions as soon as possible into motion,” an Israeli official said of Ayalon’s visit.

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