Barak cites disagreements with US

Speaking in Washington, defense minister says he asked White House to water down leaks, remarks.

Barak US 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
Barak US 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said in Washington Wednesday night that he had asked the White House to "water down its remarks, briefings and leaks, so that we can talk about fundamental issues." Speaking to Israeli reporters, the defense minister admitted that "there were differences of opinion between Israel and the US administration," after the two sides failed to reach an agreement regarding West Bank settlements. Barak reiterated that Israel "welcomes [US President Barack] Obama's initiative for regional peace," but said that as for now, "not everything has been agreed upon." "The US administration is looking for the correct way to garner Israeli support for revitalizing the peace process," continued Barak, stressing that he was "more optimistic" following his talks on Tuesday with Obama and US National Security Adviser James Jones. Obama dropped in unannounced on that meeting, and, although no details of the 15-minute conversation were provided, it came following the US president's call Monday for a halt to all settlement construction, including for "natural growth." That was the first time Obama himself, and not an adviser or Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, had included "natural growth" in the settlement freeze. Following Tuesday's meeting, Barak issued a statement saying that "the intimacy, openness and joint interests of Israel and the US are a foundation of Israeli policy, both in facing threats and making peace." During his visit to Washington, Barak is also expected to meet US Vice President Joe Biden, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Dennis Ross, the US special envoy who deals with Iran.