Barak meeting top U.S. officials


WASHINGTON (JTA) — Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak is in Washington meeting top administration officials and Congress members.

Barak is meeting Wednesday with Dennis Ross, the top Iran policy official in the White House; Tom Donilon, the national security adviser; Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton; and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, as well as Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), the chairwoman of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee and other Congress members.

Barak regularly consults with these figures on strategies for isolating Iran and on advancing the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Israeli newspapers reported that Barak’s visit will focus on Egypt, though the reports were denied by unnamed U.S. government officials.

This is Barak’s first visit since he broke from his Labor Party last month to establish the Independence faction. Barak broke away ahead of an internal Labor Party vote that likely would have pulled the party out of the coalition government because of frustrations over the failure of the peace talks to advance.

On Thursday, Barak continues to New York to meet with Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary-general.

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