Speculation that Israel might attack Iran’s nuclear sites is rampant these days, so anytime an Israeli leader comes to Washington the visit takes on added significance.
Especially if that leader is Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and he’s visiting the Pentagon to meet with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
So not even a driving rain was enough to keep a larger-than-usual assortment of TV news crews and still photographers from covering the low-key arrival ceremony, known as an Honor Cordon, that the Pentagon hosts for visiting dignitaries.
Members of the military service honor guards line the steps leading into the Pentagon as the defense secretary usually walks down to greet the visiting dignitary as his car.
Panetta was at the bottom of the steps ready to greet Barak, but the personal greeting had to wait while an Army soldier struggled to open the door of Barak’s limo.
The defense secretary began to chuckle as the struggle with the door continued and two security officers came to assist with the door handle.
Finally, the door opened and Barak emerged to hear Panetta jokingly asking if they were trying to keep him inside the car. Panetta and Barak then greeted each other with a hug, as they have at past meetings.
As they turned to walk up the stairs, reporters shouted out to ask whether they’d be talking about Iran during their talks this morning. Panetta and Barak ignored the questions as they quickly strode up the steps, probably more a result of not wanting to get wet than anything else.
After the meeting, Pentagon press secretary George Little’s reading of their session shed little light on whether America’s full court press urging Israel not to strike Iran was part of the discussion on Iran. ”They discussed the U.S.-Israel defense relationship and a range of regional issues including Syria, Iran and the ongoing changes in the Middle East,” he said
Little said this was Panetta’s fourth meeting with Barak since being sworn in as defense secretary in July and that their regular meetings “provide them the opportunity to coordinate very closely with the Israelis on security issues, and we will continue to do so.”
He added that “Panetta is always pleased to meet with Minister Barak and discuss ways to strengthen the U.S.-Israel defense relationship.”