Minister of Defense Shaul Mofaz will meet senior Bush administration officials in Washington today. In meetings with US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, Mofaz will try to resolve disagreements between the US and Israeli defense establishments over Israel's military ties with China.
"Defense News" quotes an Israeli Ministry of Defense source as saying, “One of the minister’s highest priorities is to end this crisis as soon as possible, hopefully in the next few months.”
Israeli sources in Washington want to keep Mofaz's talks about China in the background of his busy agenda. "In the talks, Mofaz will mainly focus on the disengagement plan. He will outline the anticipated problems in carrying out the plan, and the preparations being made for it," an Israeli source told "Globes" "Mofaz's message will be that this is a long and complicated operation. He will also discuss Palestinian demands and regional developments, including Syria, Lebanon and Iran. If the Americans raise the subject of China, Mofaz will naturally discuss it, but that is not at the top of his agenda. After all, the two countries have been negotiations about the Chinese matter for a long time."
The sources confirmed that former Israel Air Force chief maj.-gen. Herzl Bodinger, who is the liaison with the Pentagon for Israel-China military relations, is a member of Mofaz's entourage. However, Ministry of Defense director general Amos Yaron, who usually participates in all important ministry delegations to the Pentagon, is not.
Relations between Yaron and US Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith broke down several months ago.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes.co.il - on March 30, 2005