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. Israel army chief wary of US dialogue with Iran
JERUSALEM, May 26 (AFP) May 26, 2009
Israel's armed forces chief expressed scepticism on Tuesday over the US administration's plans for dialogue with Iran over its nuclear programme.

"The dialogue between the US and Iran is unlikely to succeed," Lieutenant General Gaby Ashkenazi told parliament's foreign affairs and defence committee.

But he added that dialogue was "one of the means that could lead Iran to give up its nuclear programme and is the preferred course for us too."

"Iran continues with its plans. The existence of nuclear weapons in Iran's hands could destabilise the entire Middle East," Ashkenazi added.

Right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in Washington after White House talks with US President Barack Obama last week that Israel reserved the right of self-defence against Iran.

Defence Minister Ehud Barak said on Monday that the chances that talks will halt Iran's nuclear programme are "very low" and that Israel would not rule out military action against nuclear sites in the Islamic republic.

Israel, widely considered to be the Middle East's sole if undeclared nuclear armed state, and the West suspect Iran is using its nuclear programme to develop atomic weapons, a charge Tehran has long denied.

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