U.S., Israel reiterate determination to prevent Iran from acquiring nuke weapon


The United States and Israel on Wednesday reaffirmed their determination to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, while vowing to enhance cooperation on regional security issues.

"Both sides reiterated their determination to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon," the State Department said in a statement after the latest round of the U.S.-Israeli Strategic Dialogue.

The dialogue, the highest-level regular diplomatic meeting between the two close allies, was co-chaired by U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and Israel's Minister for Strategic and Intelligence Affairs Yuval Steinitz.

During the dialogue, the two sides "engaged in a wide-ranging discussion of regional threats, challenges, and opportunities where close coordination is essential," the State Department said.

They also discussed "trends and developments associated with the historic changes occurring in the region, as well as ways that the two sides can further enhance bilateral ties and advance peace in the region," it said.

The two sides also reviewed developments in Syria, including efforts to eliminate Syria's chemical weapon program, as well as threats to regional stability from such groups as Lebanese Hezbollah and Hamas.

They agreed to continue to consult closely on regional issues and to meet again next year in Israel to hold the next round of the dialogue.

The dialogue was held on the same day as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a meeting in Rome, Italy to discuss coordination on regional security issues, especially Iran's nuclear program.

"It is of major concern to all of us that Iran not be able to develop a nuclear weapon," Kerry said before the meeting.

Kerry added that the U.S. welcomed "the change of rhetoric" and "diplomatic opening" offered by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who has expressed the willingness to engage diplomatically with the U.S.-led West to resolve the dispute over Tehran's nuclear program.

The U.S. and Israel suspect that Iran's nuclear program is aimed at building a nuclear weapon, which they fear could pose an existential threat to the Jewish state, despite denials by the Iranian government which insists the program is solely for peaceful research and civil energy purposes.

Israel has expressed its grave concern that Iran's latest diplomatic offer is merely designed to rid itself of the crippling sanctions imposed by the U.S.-led Western countries.

Appearing together with Kerry, Netanyahu warned against making a "tragic mistake" by lifting the sanctions before achieving the goal of stopping Iran's bid to acquire military nuclear capability.