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Rice reassures Israel over nuclear Iran fears

Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas (R) meets US National Security Advisor Susan Rice in the West Bank city of Ramallah on May 8, 2014. (AFP PHOTO / MOHAMAD TOROKMAN)

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice assured Israel at high-level talks Thursday that Washington remained determined to stop Iran developing nuclear arms, the White House said.

“The U.S. delegation reaffirmed our commitment to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon,” said a White House statement released after talks in occupied Jerusalem between Rice, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other senior officials from both sides.

“The delegations held thorough consultations on all aspects of the challenge posed by Iran, and pledged to continue the unprecedented coordination between the United States and Israel,” it added.

Earlier, Netanyahu said the best defense against a nuclear Iran was to block it from developing such a weapon in the first place, and he referred to a new round of talks between Tehran and world powers due to open next week in Vienna.

“The most important thing is that Iran does not attain the ability to develop a nuclear weapon, and that needs to be and must be the ultimate and most important goal of the current negotiations with Iran,” he said.

“That needs to be the object of the talks. That is Israel’s position. That needs to be the position of everyone who really wants to prevent the renewed threat of mass destruction by a radical regime,” Netanyahu said.

The White House said the Israeli-U.S. talks also dealt with “other critical regional and bilateral issues,” but did not elaborate.

“The delegations shared views candidly and intensively, in the spirit of the extraordinary and unprecedented security cooperation between our two countries,” it said.

It was Rice’s first trip to Israel since she took office last July and it came shortly after the collapse of U.S.-brokered Middle East peace talks.

The White House is assessing whether to try to salvage its Middle East peace efforts after the collapse in late April of nine months of negotiations vigorously promoted by Secretary of State John Kerry.

Rice met for dinner late Thursday with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at his headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 09, 2014, on page 1.

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Summary

U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice assured Israel at high-level talks Thursday that Washington remained determined to stop Iran developing nuclear arms, the White House said.

Earlier, Netanyahu said the best defense against a nuclear Iran was to block it from developing such a weapon in the first place, and he referred to a new round of talks between Tehran and world powers due to open next week in Vienna.

It was Rice's first trip to Israel since she took office last July and it came shortly after the collapse of U.S.-brokered Middle East peace talks.


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