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Israel's chief of staff on US visit
by Staff Writers
Jerusalem (AFP) Feb 3, 2013

Israeli armed forces chief Lieutenant General Benny Gantz on Sunday started a five-day visit to Washington, the army said, with the Syrian conflict and Iran's controversial nuclear programme on his agenda.

"During the course of the visit, the chief of the general staff and his (US) counterpart, General (Martin) Dempsey, will conduct a series of work meetings together, as well as meetings with other American officials," the military said.

"They will also discuss current security challenges, the regional security status in the Middle East and military cooperation," it added in a statement.

Gantz's visit comes as Defence Minister Ehud Barak, currently in Munich, implicitly confirmed the Jewish state carried out an air strike on military installations in Syria on Wednesday.

Washington has said Israeli warplanes targeted missiles and a military complex near the Syrian capital to prevent arms transfers to Lebanon's powerful Shiite group Hezbollah.

Israel has also consistently refused to rule out a resort to military action to prevent Iran developing the capability to build a nuclear weapon, although Tehran denies any such ambition.

Biden in France to discuss Mali, Syria
Paris (AFP) Feb 03, 2013 - US Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Paris Sunday for talks with President Francois Hollande on issues that will include France's military intervention in Mali, the Syria conflict, and Iran's alleged bid to build a nuclear bomb.

Biden, who made no comment to reporters as he arrived, was to have lunch with Hollande on Monday before leaving for talks in London with British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Biden arrived in Paris from the Munich Security Conference in Germany, where he warned Iran that opportunities for diplomacy to resolve the issue of its nuclear programme were limited.

Biden on Saturday said the US applauded France's intervention against Islamists in Mali.

He said that dealing with extremists in North Africa and parts of the Middle East now required "a more integrated strategy" and using the "full range of the tools at our disposal".

"That's why the United States applauds and stands with France and other partners in Mali, and why we are providing intelligence support, transportation for the French and African troops and refuelling capability for French aircraft," he said.

"The fight against AQIM (Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb) may be far from America's borders, but it is fundamentally in America's interest," he added.

The Munich Security Conference is an annual three-day gathering of hundreds of high-ranking officials, ministers and top military brass in southern Germany.


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