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Lieberman: US and Israel in Agreement on Iran

FM Lieberman sought to downplay tensions with the US over Iran by painting a rosy picture of his meeting with Hillary Clinton.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 2/8/2012, 11:50 AM

Avigdor Lieberman
Avigdor Lieberman
Flash 90

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Israel Radio on Wednesday that Jerusalem and Washington have resolution, understanding, and agreement on how to deal with Iran.

Describing his meeting on Tuesday with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as "excellent," Lieberman said the two "discussed many sensitive issues."

"The meeting in Washington was very positive, and there is an agreement between us on most issues," Lieberman said just one week after reports of a groing divide between Israel and the US on how to handle Iran's drive for nuclear weapons.

He also repeated his praise for the Obama administrations decision Monday to implement "tough sanctions" on Iran, saying Israel believes they should be "expanded to the entire Iranian financial system."

"Washington has resolution...an understanding, and agreement, that we must prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons," Lieberman said "We are waiting for Iran to give up its nuclear ambitions and we express our appreciation for the support of Israel… We appreciate the very crucial decision of sanctions against Iran, and we continue to monitor it closely," he added.

The meeting came after an 18 month deep freeze in which Clinton and Lieberman, seen as a hard-liner and obstacle to US ambitions by Obama administration officials, did not meet face-to-face.

During that time officials in Washington turned to Defense Minister Ehud Barak, seen as a dove and more malleable by Washington insiders, to serve as a go-between between the two governments.

However, pointed questions from the press about Clinton's not meeting with Lieberman, and mounting criticism of the Obama administration's handling of the US-Israel relationship as the US gears up for its 2012 presidential election contest, are said to have won Israel's foreign minister an invitation.

During her morning press briefing US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Neuland said Wednesday, "First of all, obviously, with regard to U.S.-Israeli relations, the Secretary reconfirmed our unshakable commitment to the relationship, not only to Israel’s security, but to Israel’s democracy, based on our shared values and the ties between our people."