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Photo: AP
Mullen and Ashkenazi
Photo: AP
Israel girds for Iran battle
US military chief arriving in Israel Sunday, will discuss implications of Iran sanctions, other options with senior IDF officials; meanwhile, PM Netanyahu heading to Moscow in effort to boost Russian support for sanctions

Israel is joining the diplomatic action as the world approaches decision time in the face of Iran's nuclear threat - Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen is arriving in Israel for a series of discussions focused on Iran, while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is heading for talks in Russia for meetings with top Russian officials.

 

IDF officials say the meetings with Mullen will focus on "the cooperation between the militaries and joint security challenges," with Iran's nuclear race taking center stage. Officials are expected to look into the implications of economic sanctions, while also examining other options.

 

Admiral Mullen, who in the past has spoken out against the dangerous potential of Iran's nuclear threat, will be holding his ninth meeting with his host, IDF Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Gabi Ashkenazi. Mullen recently said that an Iranian bomb would constitute an existential threat for Israel, stressing that he and Ashkenazi share a similar vision regarding the threat's scope and timetable.


Meetings to focus on Iran (Photo: AP)

 

Mullen's visit will be part of a regional tour for America's military chief. He is arriving in Israel from Egypt and will be continuing to Jordan. During his visit in Israel, Mullen will meet with Ashkenazi twice, and is also expected to take part in a meeting with other top Israeli generals.

 

On Monday, Mullen will be presented with a guard of honor at the IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv. The admiral is also scheduled to visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, and meet with dozens of IDF officials involved in the rescue mission to Haiti.

 

Bibi to meet with Medvedev, Putin

On another front, PM Netanyahu will make an effort to reinforce Russia's contribution to the international campaign against Iran during a series of meetings in Moscow.

 

During his two-day visit to Moscow, Netanyahu is expected to meet with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

 

The PM will also be meeting with Jewish community representatives and top Russian news editors, and submit to interviews with the Russian media. Here too, Netanyahu will focus on the need to impose stricter sanctions on Tehran.

 

However, officials at the Prime Minister's Office said that the visit will include other significant issues that Netanyahu wishes to promote.

 

"The bilateral issues, headed by economic issues, hold equal significance to the Iranian issue or to discussion on the diplomatic process between Israel and the Palestinians," an official in Netanyahu's office said.

 

Roni Sofer contributed to the story

 

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