Trump in the Middle East
U.S. president says he didn’t mention Israel in meeting with Russians
President Donald Trump on Monday defended himself against allegations he divulged classified information in a recent meeting with Russian diplomats, saying alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he never identified Israel in his Oval Office conversation.
At the end of his appearance with Netanyahu, Trump said that he “never mentioned the word or the name Israel’’ in his conversation with Russia’s foreign minister and ambassador. “So you have another story wrong,’’ he said.
Various reports, quoting anonymous officials, have said Trump did share classified information with Russian diplomats about the threat posed by the Islamic State group, and several have said that information came from Israeli intelligence. But news accounts have not accused Trump of naming Israel as a source of the information.
Netanyahu said that U.S.-Israeli intelligence co-operation is “terrific,’’ attempting to dismiss concerns that the incident violated the confidentiality of an agreement with Israel.
Earlier Monday, on Trump’s first visit to Israel as president, he said he sees a growing recognition among Muslim nations that they share a “common cause’’ with Israel in their determination to counter threats posed by Iran.
Arriving from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Trump expressed his hope for co-operation among U.S. allies in the Middle East. Israel was his second stop on a nine-day tour aimed to test the waters for reviving the dormant Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
Trump, who had previously suggested that it would be easier than anticipated to solve the conflict that has vexed his predecessors for decades, said that conditions were right in both Israel and the Arab world to strike what he has called “the ultimate deal.’’
“We have before us a rare opportunity to bring security and stability and peace to this region and to its people,’’ Trump said upon his arrival in Tel Aviv.
U.S. President Donald Trump, left, talks during a briefing after his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Monday.