TUNIS — Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta sought Sunday to portray the United States and Israel as unified in their support for increasingly tough international sanctions, rather than military measures, against Iran to prevent it from developing a nuclear weapon.
Although top Israeli officials have said repeatedly that the economic sanctions are not slowing the Iranian program, Panetta played down the possibility of an Israeli strike in the near term. “My view is that they have not made any decisions with regards to Iran and they continue to support the international effort to bring pressure against Iran,” he said of Israel.
Panetta is to arrive in Israel on Tuesday, just days after a visit by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, whose campaign has tried to suggest that the Obama administration is not sufficiently supportive of Israel. The administration has sought to portray its relationship with the Jewish state as strong.