Barak to Ashton: We may need more action for Iran

Ashton tells Barak the future of Israel lies in finding a solution to the conflict with the Palestinians.

Ehud Barak and EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton_311 (photo credit: Ben Spier )
Ehud Barak and EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton_311
(photo credit: Ben Spier )
Defense Minister Ehud Barak welcomed on Tuesday the European Union embargo on Iranian crude, telling EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton much more may still be needed to deter Tehran from pursuing its nuclear program.
Speaking at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv alongside Ashton, Barak said the fresh EU sanctions were "steps in the right direction to ratchet international pressure; much more may be needed until we see Iranians turning back from nuclear programs."
The EU banned imports of oil from Iran on Monday and imposed a number of other economic sanctions, joining the United States in a new round of measures aimed at deflecting Tehran's nuclear development program.
Ashton, who was in Israel as part of a visit to the Jewish state and the Palestinian territories, told Barak that the point of the sanctions was to "persuade Iran to come back to the table," either to "pick pick up either the ideas that we left there when met in Istanbul last year, or to put on the table their own ideas."
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The EU foreign affairs chief has said that Europe remains open pursuing a dual track approach to the Iranian nuclear issue, which includes harsher sanctions while allowing the possibility that Iran will agree to future talks.
The baroness was also in Israel to meet with senior officials on the run-up to the Quartet deadline for presenting comprehensive border and security proposals. She will also meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, as well as Palestinian officials in the West Bank.
"I believe in the future of your country," Ashton told Barak. "I believe the future lies in finding a solution to the problems and the conflict that exist in this region. Palestinians can live side by side in a solution that brings peace and security."
Earlier Tuesday, Barak told Army Radio that the Quartet-set date of January 26 is not a "holy date,"
expressing hope that the Palestinians "will understand that it makes sense to continue" talks further.
Israeli and Palestinian delegations headed by Yithak Molcho and Saeb Erekat, respectively, will meet on Wednesday in Amman to continue a new round of direct negotiations. 
Reuters contributed to this report