Gates to address Israel's Iranian concern during Jerusalem visit

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New York, July 26 (ANI): US Defence Secretary Robert M. Gates will address Israel's growing anxiety over Iran's nuclear work during his meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Ehud Barak in Jerusalem on Monday.

A senior American official said the trip is part of a regular consultation and that Gates was not travelling to Israel "to roll out a map and do contingency planning for some strike on Iran."

Israel, according to the New York Times, has made it clear that it could strike plants at the heart of Iran's nuclear program, although it has agreed to the Obama administration's policy of first trying to engage Iran in talks.

However, the official acknowledged that the Israelis did not think diplomacy would work and that they were losing patience.

"Are they anxious?" the official said. "Yes, they're anxious. But we're not having regular conversations where they're coming in and saying, 'Stop your engagement now, bomb Iran tomorrow.' "

US President Barack Obama has given Iran until late September to accept an offer of talks to give up its nuclear ambitions, and until the end of the year to show some progress on the issue.

According to a Middle East analyst, the meetings were expected to be more about coordination and reassurance that the United States stood by Israel and that it was too soon to consider military action.

American Vice President Joe Biden had said that the United States "cannot dictate" Israel's decision on military action. But Obama has clarified that Washington is "absolutely not" giving Israel its approval for a strike.

Both Israel and the United States estimate that Iran is within one to three years of developing nuclear-weapons ability.

Gates' visit comes amid tension not only on Iran but also during an unusual rift between the United States and Israel over Israeli construction in areas that the Palestinians hope to turn into a state. (ANI)

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