Barak presses military option

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told his U.S. counterpart that a military option should remain on the table when dealing with Iran.

Barak met Tuesday with U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates mid Israeli concerns that the United States is backpedaling in its determination to keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear bomb. He also met separately with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Vice President Dick Cheney.

Israel prefers tougher sanctions, Barak told reporters after meeting with Gates, but “we should bear in mind that no option should be removed from the table,: which he called the “formal” position of the United States.

“We should mean it when we say it,” Barak added.

Barak said he and Gates agreed that the United States within months would integrate Israel into its early warning system, helping the Jewish state to detect missile launches.

U.S. officials pressed Barak on settlement expansion in the West Bank and on what they see as hindrances he is placing in the way of the Palestinian Authority establishing a viable security force.

Barak said he agreed to launch talks with U.S. Gen. James Jones, the Bush administration’s liaison in the region who is supervising efforts to establish such a force.

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