Panetta to Discuss Iran with Israeli Allies
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
TEL AVIV, Israel, Jul. 31, 2012 U.S. defense officials will discuss the threat Iran poses to the Middle East and the world with Israeli officials during a visit to the close Middle Eastern ally today.
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta is here to meet with Israeli President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Iran’s attempt to develop nuclear weapons is square on the agenda.
Israeli and American leaders “continue to work together in the effort to ensure that Iran does not reach that point of developing a nuclear weapon,” Panetta said at a news conference in Cairo before leaving for Tel Aviv. It is wrong, however, to characterize the discussions in Israel as an exchange of war plans, the secretary said.
“What we are discussing is various contingencies and how we would respond,” Panetta said. “We don’t talk about specific military plans. We continue to run a number of options in that area, but the discussions I will have in Israel [will be to determine] the threat we are confronting and to share both information and intelligence on it.”
The United States also is concerned about Syria, Panetta said.
“The situation right now is the United States continues to work with our international allies to try to bring as much pressure as possible on the Assad regime,” Panetta said.
Meanwhile, he added, the United States is working to provide humanitarian assistance to Syrians who have taken refuge in Turkey and Jordan and helping with security of Syrian chemical-biological sites.