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Israel's Barak in US for top-level talks

Israel's minister of defense was to hold top-level talks in Washington over recent developments in the Middle East

AFP , Wednesday 9 Feb 2011
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Israel's Defence Minister Ehud Barak was to hold a series of top-level talks in Washington later on Wednesday which Israeli media said would centre on the unfolding crisis in Egypt.

Barak left Israel on Tuesday for a two-day visit to Washington and New York, and was expected to meet US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defence Secretary Robert Gates and National Security chief Tom Donilon, his office said.

He was to brief Congress on Wednesday and later meet with senior White House adviser Dennis Ross alongside a number of other top defense and intelligence officials, his office said, without saying what would be on the agenda.

Media reports said he would also meet UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in New York.

The English-language Jerusalem Post and the Ynet news website both said Barak's visit would focus on the Egyptian unrest and its impact on Israel and the strategic balance in the region.

With the Mubarak regime under threat of collapse, Israel fears a power vacuum could be exploited by Islamist elements determined to rescind the 1979 peace treaty between the two countries.

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