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U.S., Israeli national security advisers meet on Iran

WASHINGTON (JTA) — U.S. national security advisers in a meeting with their Israeli counterparts reaffirmed President Obama’s goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, the White House said.

National Security Advisor Susan Rice and her deputy, Tony Blinken, hosted Israeli National Security Advisor Yossi Cohen and other Israeli officials for meetings at the White House last week, according to a statement issued Sunday from the White House. Senior officials from the departments of State and Treasury were part of the U.S. contingent, as well.

The meetings are part of the Obama administration’s effort to keep Israel in the loop as talks with Iran on its nuclear program go forward.

As part of the effort, the top U.S. official enforcing Iran sanctions is planning an Israel visit, the U.S. Treasury department announced Monday.

The White House statement said the U.S. and Israeli teams discussed “the P5+1’s efforts to pursue a lasting and comprehensive settlement that would resolve the international community’s concerns regarding Iran’s nuclear program.”

P5+1 refers to the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – France, Britain, Russia, China and the United States – plus Germany, the countries that are in interim sanctions-for-nuclear rollback talks with Iran.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has expressed strong reservations about the interim talks and is wary of any final deal that stops short of dismantling Iran’s nuclear program in its entirety.

The Treasury announcement said that David Cohen, its undersecretary for financial intelligence, will travel to Britain, Germany and Israel this week “to continue Treasury’s global engagement on issues related to illicit finance, including the implementation of existing international economic sanctions against Iran.”

The Obama administration is pushing back against claims by Republicans and some hawkish pro-Israel groups that it has backpedaled on existing sanctions.

Also Monday, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel spoke with his Israeli counterpart, Moshe Yaalon, about Iran.

“Secretary Hagel underscored the United States’ commitment to preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon,” a Pentagon statement said. “They also discussed the situation in Syria, including the international community’s efforts to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons program.”

The statement said Hagel and Yaalon pledged to stay in close touch on these issues and others in the region.

 

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