Israeli ministers head to Washington


Israeli ministers Ehud Barak, Tzipi Livni and Shaul Mofaz will visit Washington this week.

Barak, the defense minister, departs Sunday night for the U.S. capital, where he will hold high-level talks on Iran and efforts to bolster the Palestinian Authority.

The Barak visit, which has been postponed three times, also will include a stopover in New York for discussions about Hezbollah with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Livni, the foreign minister, is due to hold routine peace negotiations Wednesday with P.A. officials under the auspices of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Mofaz, a former defense minister who now holds the transport portfolio, will represent Israel at strategic talks with the U.S. State Department on Thursday and Friday.

The flurry of diplomacy comes at a time of upheaval in Israel, where Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is struggling to survive politically in the face of a corruption investigation.

Livni and Mofaz, both of whom belong to Olmert’s Kadima Party, have made clear their ambitions to take the top office.

Barak, whose Labor Party is Kadima’s biggest partner in the coalition government, also has signaled his designs on the prime minister’s office he once held.

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