US Military Chief in Israel for Talks on Iran Nuclear Program

Posted January 20th, 2012 at 11:25 am (UTC-5)
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The top U.S. military official held closed talks Friday with Israeli leaders over how to respond to Iran's controversial nuclear program, which both countries fear is being used to develop nuclear weapons.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army General Martin Dempsey, met in Israel with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres, as well as the defense minister and military chief .

Few details about the meetings were released, but Israeli media report the U.S. officials were expected to urge Israel not to make a pre-emptive military strike on Iran. Israel has not yet ruled out that possible tactic. The United States favors stronger sanctions against Iran instead of any military action.

Ahead of Friday's talks, President Peres said Israel and the United States face a common threat in the region.

“I think the two camps today is really the camp of peace and the camp of dangerous ambitions to rule other people,” Mr. Peres said, adding, “And we are on the same front.”

General Dempsey reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to Israel, despite their differences on the Iranian nuclear situation.

“And your characterization of the common challenge we face and the common … trust, the sacred trust we have to protect those values of freedom, I couldn't agree with you more,” Dempsey said, adding, “And I assure you that America is your partner and we are honored to have you as a partner in that regard.”

The U.S. has been trying to gather more international support for the sanctions. It says a military strike against Iran could further destabilize the Middle East.

Reuters news agency is reporting that major world powers are about to announce the conditions Iran must meet if talks about its nuclear program are to resume. The report says the United States, Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia are expected to make a proposal aimed at getting Iran to agree to return to negotiations.