Gates, Israeli Coun­ter­part Dis­cuss Secu­ri­ty Issues

By Don­na Miles
Amer­i­can Forces Press Ser­vice

WASHINGTON, Feb. 25, 2010 — Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates was slat­ed to host Israeli Defense Min­is­ter Ehud Barack at the Pen­ta­gon today to con­tin­ue their ongo­ing dis­cus­sions about a broad range of secu­ri­ty issues, includ­ing Iran, Pen­ta­gon Press Sec­re­tary Geoff Mor­rell said today.
Mor­rell called the after­noon ses­sion, their fourth over the past year, an oppor­tu­ni­ty for Gates to reaf­firm the Unit­ed States’ “unshak­able com­mit­ment to Israeli secu­ri­ty.”

The two were expect­ed to dis­cuss issues relat­ed to bilat­er­al secu­ri­ty coop­er­a­tion, par­tic­u­lar­ly bal­lis­tic mis­sile defense, and the Mid­dle East peace process.

Part of the dis­cus­sion like­ly will address Army Lt. Gen. Kei­th Dayton’s work over­see­ing train­ing of Pales­tin­ian Author­i­ty secu­ri­ty forces in his role as U.S. secu­ri­ty coor­di­na­tor for the Israel-Pales­tin­ian Author­i­ty. The intent, Mor­rell explained, is to build con­fi­dence in Israel that the Pales­tin­ian Author­i­ty is able to main­tain secu­ri­ty with­in its bound­aries and pre­vent attacks from the West Bank or Gaza that threat­en inno­cent Israelis.

Iran’s nuclear pro­gram also was expect­ed to be a major agen­da item at today’s meet­ing. Israel and the Unit­ed States share con­cerns about Iran’s activ­i­ties, par­tic­u­lar­ly its “fail­ure to respond to a year of sus­tained and gen­uine out­reach,” Mor­rell said.

This “has left the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty no choice” but to pur­sue robust sanc­tions, he added.

Mor­rell empha­sized that the Unit­ed States has not giv­en up on its attempts to engage with Iran, despite past efforts he con­ced­ed have been “large­ly spurned.”

“Even as we go down the pres­sure track, even as we go around the world try­ing to solic­it sup­port from our allies to bring sanc­tions against Iran to make them com­pli­ant with inter­na­tion­al stric­tures on their nuclear pro­gram, we keep that door open to engage­ment,” he said. “Just because we’re down the pres­sure track does­n’t mean the engage­ment track is closed off.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)