Bar-On discusses credit ratings

Israel’s finance minister met with the three major credit raters in an appeal to raise Israel’s ratings.

Roni Bar-On met in New York and Washington this week with officials representing Standard and Poor’s, Moody’s and Fitch. Credit ratings by the three agencies determine the conditions under which banks proffer loans to nations. Israel has been stuck at the same rating for 12 years – A2 at Moody’s and A minus at Fitch and S&P – and Bar-On argued that its economy is now performing robustly and it deserves an upgrade.

Bar-On told reporters that he did not foresee any immediate changes, but “I came out of the meetings satisfied.” The finance minister also met counterparts attending World Bank and International Monetary Fund meetings in Washington this week and conveyed Israel’s support for sanctions as a means of forcing Iran to end its suspected nuclear weapons program.

He met with Robert Kimmitt, the deputy U.S. treasury secretary and with top congressional appropriators, thanking them for backing President Bush’s recent increase in defense assistance to Israel from $2.4 billion to $3 billion annually.

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