U.S. military leader in Israel for talks

Sept. 6, 2012 at 10:45 AM
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TEL AVIV, Israel, Sept. 6 (UPI) -- The U.S. joint forces' second-in-command was in Israel Thursday to meet with Israeli officials to discuss, among other things, a nuclear Iran, officials said.

Adm. James A. Winnefeld, vice chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, also was expected to discuss U.S.-Israeli military cooperation during his talks with his counterpart, Maj. Gen. Yair Nave, Haaretz reported.

Winnefeld's visit occurs amid debate between U.S. and Israeli officials about how Western leaders should address Iran's controversial nuclear program. The Jerusalem Post reported Winnefeld's visit was under a news blackout because of the purported recent tensions between the two countries.

Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey renewed talk about the strained relations between the United States and Israel last week when he was quoted by the British newspaper The Guardian as saying he wanted to avoid being "complicit" should Israel decide to conduct a military operation against Iran's nuclear facilities.

Dempsey, speaking in London, said an attack would "clearly delay but probably not destroy Iran's nuclear program," and cautioned that the international pressure to force Iran to abandon its work "could be undone if it was attacked prematurely."

"I don't want to be complicit if they [Israel] choose to do it," Dempsey said.

Haaretz reported on a published account that U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said he thinks the Israeli government likely will wait to decide whether to carry out an attack until after the U.S. presidential race between President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney is decided in November.

Asked why, Rogers said, "Because I think they believe that maybe after the election they can talk the United States into cooperating."

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