Barak and Clinton, Wednesday
Photo: AP
Barak: Clear mines from Israel-US ties
Defense minister concludes meetings with senior American officials, calls for peace initiative that would give Israel military freedom of action
WASHINGTON – Defense Minister Ehud Barak concluded his visit to Washington on Thursday night with two targets: A peace initiative and restoring Israel's relations with the United States.


Talking to Israeli reporters, Barak said that "it's important to clear all the mines from our relations with the Americans, which are not always our fault. A peace initiative must be advance with all our might in an effort to reach a breakthrough."


Barak met over the past five days with nearly the entire political and security echelon in the US. In his meetings and conversations, the defense minister found a lot of understanding on the part of the Obama administration for Israel's security problems, as well as American willingness to help Israel maintain its qualitative advantage.


He also heard Washington's demand that Israel should be attentive to the American problems in the Middle East, while the US engages in two wars in the region – in Iraq and Afghanistan.


The officials Barak met with included US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, National Security Advisor Jim Jones, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and senior military and intelligence figures.


The defense minister told reporters that "the Americans expect to see an Israel which takes its security seriously, but also takes risks to stop the lack of progress and isolation. A real advancement of a political move will give Israel the freedom of action to carry out the military actions required for its security.


Two weeks ahead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's meeting with US President Barack Obama in Washington, the American administration has high expectations for an Israeli diplomatic initiative to advance the process.


Barak raised the issue of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit in every meeting. "So far we have not succeeded in bringing him home, but it's our duty," he said. "Two governments have dealt with it and have failed to bring him back. It's our duty to bring him back, but not at any cost. We will continue dealing with this in the coming days and weeks until he returns."


פרסום ראשון: 06.25.10, 07:30
 new comment
See all talkbacks "Barak: Clear mines from Israel-US ties "
This will delete your current comment