Israel outlined its concerns about any U.S. engagement with Iran.
Shaul Mofaz, the transportation minister and the head of the Israeli team in the bilateral strategic dialogue, met Monday with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her deputy, William Burns, who is co-chairing the Bush administration’s State Department transition team.
Mofaz said he asked Rice and Burns to convey to Barack Obama’s transition team Israel’s two main concerns about the president-elect’s pledge to engage with Iran in an attempt to get it to end its suspected nuclear weapon program.
First, Mofaz said, there should be “time limits” on any dialogue.
“Iran’s strategy has been to buy time, and they have been successful,” he said.
The other concern was that Iran must not be permitted to enrich uranium on its soil.
Meeting with Hebrew-speaking reporters just after his meetings, Mofaz stressed that Israel had no right to dictate terms to the United States, but that it was expressing its concerns. He said he was impressed by Obama’s commitment to “tough diplomacy” and that he expected to see consistency between the Bush and Obama administrations on sanctioning Iran.
“Our goals are identical,” Mofaz said, quoting Obama’s oft-repeated pledge that Iran must not obtain nuclear weapons.
Obama campaigned on a pledge to engage Iran to a greater degree than had the Bush administration.