Hinting at Iran divisions, Clinton says friends need to work together in 'smart, creative' ways
U.S. Secretary of State meets with President Peres, Avigdor Lieberman on her first visit to Israel in two years; she will meet with Barak, Netanyahu later Monday.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who began her visit to Israel with meetings in Jerusalem on Monday morning, hinted after her meeting with President Shimon Peres that there are differences of opinion between the U.S. and Israel over how to deal with Iran.
Talking to the press, Clinton said, "It is a time of uncertainty but also of a big opportunity in the region. At times like these friends like us need to work together in a smart, creative and courageous way."
Clinton also met on Monday morning with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, before her meeting with Peres. On Monday afternoon, she will meet with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and attend a dinner with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. At 21:30 in the evening, she will address reporters at the David Citadel hotel in Jerusalem.
At the center of Clinton's meetings in Israel is the Iran nuclear issue, as well as violence in Syria, the new government in Egypt, and the peace process with the Palestinians. There are differences of opinion between Israel and the U.S. over all these issues. The U.S. is convinced that Israel has to refrain from unilateral military action against Iranian nuclear facilities, and give more time to sanctions. The Obama administration also thinks that Israel should push new policy over the peace process and dissuade the Palestinians from turning to the UN for state recognition in September.
Following his meeting with Clinton, Peres said that, Egypt is a key state in the region and that Israel wants to uphold the peace treaty with Egypt. "We respect the results of the elections in Egypt, and hope for another 30 years of peace," he said.
Peres added that he was convinced that there is international understanding of the danger that the Iranian regime represents to the world, and highlighted that the sanctions that have been imposed on Iran have started to work.
"I hope that Iran will return to its rich legacy and be a country that does not threaten anyone, and no one makes threats against," he said.
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