Bush, Olmert unite against nu­clear Iran

The Washington Times Weekly - - World - By Stephen Di­nan and David Sands

Pres­i­dent Bush and Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ehud Olmert said on Nov. 13 that they can­not ac­cept a nu­clear-armed Iran, and the Is­raeli leader ac­cused the Is­lamic repub­lic of “fa­nati­cism.”

Af­ter a private meet­ing at the White House, they told re­porters that they want to con­tinue to iso­late Iran un­til it halts ura­nium-en­rich­ment ef­forts, which they think is part of a nu­clear-weapons pro­gram.

“It’s very im­por­tant for the world to unite with one com­mon voice to say to the Ira­ni­ans that if you choose to con­tinue for­ward, you’ll be iso­lated. And one source of iso­la­tion would be eco­nomic iso­la­tion,” Mr. Bush told re­porters.

The United States has let Euro­pean na­tions take the lead in the slow diplo­macy to try to block Iran’s nu­clear pro­gram, but Mr. Bush — with Is­rael as a very in­ter­ested part­ner — has pushed for stronger state­ments and spe­cific conse- quences should Iran con­tinue the pro­gram.

Mr. Olmert said that Is­rael, which is widely thought to have a nu­clear arse­nal, is wor­ried about state­ments by Iran’s pres­i­dent threat­en­ing the ex­is­tence of Is­rael and that those threats are “not some­thing that we can tol­er­ate or would ever tol­er­ate, and cer­tainly not when we know that he is try­ing to pos­sess nu­clear weapons.”

Brief­ing re­porters af­ter the White House meet­ing, Olmert spokes­woman Miri Eisin said the Iran prob­lem and the Is­raeliPales­tinian peace process took up much of the dis­cus­sions, with broad ar­eas of agree­ment on both is­sues be­tween the two lead­ers.

Mrs. Eisin said Is­rael was “not against com­pro­mise” with Tehran so long as the Is­lamic repub­lic did not de­velop or ac­quire nu­clear weapons. Iran, she said, “needs to fear the im­pli­ca­tions if they don’t com­pro­mise” on the nu­clear is­sue.

The spokes­woman sidestepped ques­tions about an up­com­ing Iraq re­port by a bi­par­ti­san com­mis­sion led by for­mer Sec­re­tary of State James A. Baker III. The panel, which­metwithMr.Bushon­Nov.13 just be­fore Mr. Olmert did, is said to be con­sid­er­ing sev­eral ma­jor changes to U.S. pol­icy on Iraq and the Mid­dle East, in­clud­ing di­rect talks with Syria and Iran, and pres­sure on Is­rael to seek a peace deal with mod­er­ate Pales­tini­ans.

Mrs. Eisin said that Is­rael re­cently has seen “very pos­i­tive” state­ments by mod­er­ate Arab lead­ers in Egypt, Saudi Ara­bia and Jor­dan about re­viv­ing the peace process and that Mr. Olmert re­peat­edly has stressed will­ing­ness to meet with Pales­tinian Author­ity head Mah­moud Ab­bas “at any time.”

The spokes­woman said that Mr. Bush and Mr. Olmert had a “long dis­cus­sion” on Iraq, and that Mr. Olmert gave as­sur­ances that “Is­rael will be be­hind Amer­ica what­ever the U.S. chooses to do.”

There were no ma­jor points of dis­agree­ment in the talks, Mrs. Eisin said.

“Not ev­ery visit is a dra­matic one,” she said. “This was not a dra­matic visit.”

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