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Israeli Delegation Visits U.S., Meets Susan Rice

Iran and Syria are on the agenda as an Israeli delegation, headed by Israel's national security advisor, arrives in Washington.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 8/27/2013, 4:45 AM

Yaakov Amidror
Yaakov Amidror
Flash 90

A senior Israeli delegation visited the White House on Monday for high-level talks on the building Syria crisis and the nuclear showdown with Iran, reported AFP.

Officials said that U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice met Yaakov Amidror, the outgoing Israeli national security advisor.

The talks centered on "Iran, Egypt, Syria, and a range of other regional security issues," said U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden, according to AFP.

The talks came as Washington mulls a military response to a chemical weapons attack on Syrian civilians last week that it has blamed on President Bashar Al-Assad's regime.

Israel has frequently expressed disquiet at Syria's chemical weapons program and is believed to have made several aerial strikes against Syrian missile targets during its neighbor's civil war.

Pressure has been piling up on the West, particularly on President Barack Obama, to respond to the alleged chemical attack in Damascus last week, which rebels said killed more than 1,000 people.

On Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry said that chemical weapons had been used against Syrian civilians and warned that Obama would demand accountability for this "moral obscenity."

Employing his strongest language yet, Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington was still examining evidence, but left no doubt that Bashar Al-Assad's regime would be blamed.

"What we saw in Syria last week should shock the conscience of the world. It defies any code of morality," he said, in a televised statement from the State Department.

"Let me be clear. The indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders by chemical weapons is a moral obscenity," declared Kerry.

"By any standard it is inexcusable, and despite the excuses and equivocations that some have manufactured, it is undeniable," he stated.

Assad's government has denied carrying out last week's alleged chemical weapons strike on a civilian community near Damascus, which reportedly killed hundreds of people.

Meanwhile, a top Syrian official warned Monday that if attacked, his country would react – against Israel.

Speaking to an Arabic-language radio station operated by the United States, Syria's Deputy Information Minister Halaf Al-Maftah said that Israel would face not only Syria in the event that the U.S., Britain and France attempted to unseat Assad. A coalition consisting of Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria would respond to any attack against Assad with a response against Israel. In addition, terrorist groups in Syria and Lebanon would attack Israel with full force.