- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 9, 2012

The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee confirmed that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu exploded in frustration over President Obama’s policies toward Iran in a private meeting with the congressman and the U.S. ambassador to Israel.

Rep. Mike Rogers, Michigan Republican, contradicted Ambassador Daniel Shapiro, who claimed the Aug. 31 meeting in Jerusalem was “friendly and professional.”

“We’ve had sharp exchanges with other heads of state and in intelligence services and other things, but nothing at that level that I’ve seen in all my time where people were clearly that agitated, clearly that worked up about a particular issue where there was a very sharp exchange,” Mr. Rogers told WJP radio host Frank Beckman in Michigan last week.

Mr. Rogers described the Israeli leader and his government as at their “wits’ end,” as they fear that Iran is within weeks of developing a nuclear weapon and the Obama administration is doing too little to stop the Islamic regime, which has threatened to destroy the Jewish state.

“There was no doubt. You could not walk out of that meeting and think that they had not lost their patience with this administration,” Mr. Rogers said, according to a transcript of the broadcast, which first appeared on the blog of Jeffery Goldberg of the Atlantic Magazine.

Mr. Shapiro last week dismissed an article about the closed-door meeting, calling an account in the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronoth a “silly story.”

“The conversations [in the meeting] were entirely friendly and professional,” he insisted.

The newspaper quoted sources who attended the meeting as describing “sparks and lightening” flashing during the talks.

“Instead of effectively pressuring Iran, Obama and his people are pressuring us not to strike the nuclear installations,” Mr. Netanyahu was quoted as saying. “Time has run out.”

Sudan, north and south

Diplomacy broke out last week among Sudan, South Sudan and the United States, but guns were ablaze by Sunday as rebels clashed with the Sudanese army.

Sudan and South Sudan resumed peace talks in Ethiopia on Tuesday under mediators from the African Union, and the first ambassador from South Sudan officially began his duties in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, on Wednesday.

Ambassador Mayan Dut Wol called for peace between the two neighbors, which have been locked in conflict over oil, territory and other issues since South Sudan secured its independence from Sudan last year.

By Thursday, however, the diplomacy turned sour.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice accused Sudan of stalling the peace talks over a dispute over border territory, and a Sudanese Foreign Ministry official, Rahmat-Allah Mohamed Osman, objected to her criticism.

“It would have been better for her to wait for the outcome of negotiations,” he told the Sudan Tribune.

The next day, Susan Page, the new U.S. ambassador to South Sudan, tried to strike a positive tone.

“The country has a lot of potential,” she told the Voice of America.

However, she added, Africa’s newest nation needs to create economic opportunities, guarantee press freedom and fight corruption.

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

• Wednesday

Shalva Natelashvili, leader of the opposition Labor Party in the Republic of Georgia. He addresses the Center for the National Interest about Georgia’s Oct. 1 parliamentary elections.

Friday

Juan Carlos Varela, vice president of Panama, leads a delegation from his country that includes: Economy Minister Frank de Lima;Guillermo Adames, president of the National Council of Journalism; Guillermo Chapman, chairman of Indesa Holdings Corp.; andGerardo Solis, a magistrate on the Electoral Tribunal. They address the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Inter-American Dialogue.

• Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com. The column is published on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.