Clinton to visit Israel on backdrop of Iran talks
The purpose of the visit is an American-Israeli strategic dialogue, on the backdrop of expected talks between Iran and the five permanent Security Council members and Germany over the Islamic republic's nuclear program.
Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon, who is visiting Washington, extended an invitation to Clinton from her Israeli counterpart, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
Ayalon met at the State Department with Clinton's two senior deputies, Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg and Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns - the designated American representative for the talks with the Iranians. He also held a meeting at the National Security Council with President Barack Obama's senior advisor on the Middle East, Dennis Ross.
The decision on Clinton's visit was made as part of the upgrading of the strategic dialogue between the countries to the rank of foreign ministers. This will be the secretary of state's second visit to Israel since taking office.
The timing of the visit was set for a period when Israel and the US will try and determine whether the talks with Iran can be defined as "foot-dragging" and whether Tehran has no plans to abandon its nuclear ambitions.