Israel's Barak meets with US defence chief
US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta welcomed his Israeli counterpart Ehud Barak to the Pentagon Wednesday for talks expected to focus on the nuclear standoff with Iran, dpa reported.
The Pentagon provided few details of the meeting other than that the pair along with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, discussed the allies' defence relationship and regional issues such as Syria, Iran and the broader Middle East.
During his two-day visit, Barak is also scheduled to meet Vice President Joe Biden, in addition to National Security Adviser Tom Donilon who was in Israel last week.
The visit comes a week before scheduled talks at the White House between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who on Sunday told his cabinet that Iran would top the agenda.
Media reports that Israeli leaders believe time was running out to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear bomb with sanctions alone have raised fears in the United States that its key Middle Eastern ally would launch preemptive airstrikes.
Israel has welcomed US and European sanctions against Iran but its leaders, including Barak, have said that all options remain on the table.
Barak has denied a rift exists between Israel and the United States on how to deal with Iran, which says its nuclear programme is peaceful.