PM and DM Barak Meets with U.S. Secretary of Defense Cohen
(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)
Prime Minister Ehud Barak met today with the U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen.
Prime Minister and Defense Minister Barak presented the Israeli position in the face of Palestinian terrorism and violence. He said that not only have the Palestinians failed to fulfill commitments signed to date, but they have recently released members of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad from prison and are operating an incitement campaign in the Palestinian media. Israel was prepared to discussed far-reaching ideas, but Arafat chose to try and achieve political gains through violence. Israel, Barak added, will not surrender to violence and will not compromise on its security and strategic interests. There is no sovereign state in the world that would not have reacted severely to shots fired at its capital, said Barak.
Prime Minister and Defense Minister Barak said that the situation along the Lebanese border is tense, as a result of the failure of the Lebanese government to fulfill Resolution 425, despite Israel’s complete fulfillment of all its obligations. Any attack on Israel in this situation will lead to a sharp Israeli reaction. Responsibility rests with the governments of Syria and Lebanon.
Prime Minister and Defense Minister Barak expressed Israel’s concern at the continuing efforts of Iran and Iraq to attain mass destruction capabilities. The weakening of international supervision over Iraq endangers the entire region and is liable to severely harm the interests of the free world, including the United States.
The Secretary of Defense said that the U.S. is committed to Israel’s security and military superiority, and expressed concern at the ongoing cycle of violence in the region, which the U.S. will do its utmost to bring to an end. He recommended to the Prime Minister that the fact-finding committee be allowed to begin its work, in the belief that its activity can have a calming influence. Secretary Cohen said that he shares Israel’s concern at the arming of Iran and Iraq.
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