Iran will top the agenda when Prime Minister Ehud Olmert meets with US President George W. Bush in Washington later this month, according to the Prime Minister's Office.
The focus on Iran's quest for nuclear capabilities is an indication of how much progress the Islamic republic has made despite pleas - but no concrete actions - from the international community to stop its nuclear program. The United Nations Security Council is currently discussing the possibility of imposing sanctions. Olmert has labeled Iran as Israel's biggest strategic threat and warned that the Jewish state "can never abide" a nuclear Iran.
At the same time, it also indicates how much has changed in Israel since Olmert's first trip to Washington as prime minister in May. In the spring, his visit centered on the "realignment" plan which would have seen further Israeli withdrawals from the West Bank. Following the war in the north, the program has been shelved.
There is also talk of the possibility of a new diplomatic initiative coming out of the Foreign Ministry, which could also figure into the Washington visit.
"Our job is always to search for new diplomatic horizons and alternatives," an aide to Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said about the conjecture on a new plan. He added that, in the past, Livni has said "we should concentrate on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."
In the short term, two high-level Washington envoys - Elliott Abrams and David Welch - are scheduled to arrive in Israel Wednesday. They are also due to visit with Palestinians and then go on to Jordan.
One Israeli diplomatic official described it as essentially a maintenance visit, as the two travel to the region periodically and had no specific agenda for this trip. Olmert's calendar doesn't even include a meeting with the two envoys, according to PMO spokeswoman Miri Eisin.
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