CIA chief set to arrive Tuesday in Israel for talks focused on Iran
The director of the US Central Intelligence Agency, William Burns, will arrive in Israel on Tuesday for talks expected to focus on Iran, according to Hebrew-language media reports.
Unnamed Israeli officials told the Walla news site that Burns is set to meet with Mossad chief David Barnea, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, and other security and intelligence officials.
The Ynet news site reported that Burns will also meet with President Isaac Herzog and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid.
The visit to Israel will be Burns’s first since assuming the role as head of the CIA in March.
The officials told Walla that the talks would concentrate on Iran’s nuclear program and regional activities, with Israel wanting to know the Biden administration’s stance toward new Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.
Raisi, a hardline cleric and protégé of Iran’s supreme leader, took office last week amid a series of escalations in the region, including an explosive-laden drone attack on an Israeli-linked ship off the coast of Oman that killed two crew members.
The West has blamed Iran for the assault, though Tehran has denied involvement.
The MT Mercer Street, an oil products tanker operated by Israeli-controlled Zodiac Maritime, was struck on July 29 off Oman’s coast. Two crew members, a Briton and a Romanian, were killed.
Iran has warned Israel not to take military action against it, after its arch-foe threatened Tehran over the tanker attack.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday renewed vows to punish Iran for allegedly attacking an Israeli-linked tanker, saying the world cannot allow “impunity.”
“It is on all of our nations to hold accountable those responsible. Failing to do so will only fuel their sense of impunity and embolden others inclined to disregard the maritime order,” he said.
Burns is also expected to visit Ramallah, where he is to meet with the Palestinian Authority president, Walla reported, citing the Israeli officials.