debkafile Exclusive: The most burning issue on the mind of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in his talks in Jerusalem was not Lebanon – but Iran
Our exclusive Jerusalem sources reveal that the issues raised at his press conferences with Israeli PM Ehud Olmert and FM Tzipi Livni – the full implementation of UN resolution 1701, the Israeli blockade of Lebanon, the kidnapped Israel soldiers, the embargo on imported weapons for Hizballah – were all left outside the closed doors of the conference rooms he entered in Jerusalem.
Inside, the UN Secretary went straight to the point: He wanted an Israeli message to hand to Iranian leaders in Tehran which he hoped to visit later in his 11-day Middle East tour. The message was to contain an assurance that, despite the Lebanon war and the accelerated tempo of the Iranian nuclear program, Israel undertook not to attack Iran. Annan wanted to be the bearer of a Note in this vein to dispel the Islamic Republic’s fears of an imminent Israeli strike. He told Olmert he intended placing this assurance in the hands of supreme ruler Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in person.
Olmert turned him down.
debkafile‘s Jerusalem sources add: Olmert asked the UN Secretary if he had procured a message in this spirit from Washington and, if so, would he submit the American and Israeli notes to Iran’s rulers together or separately.
According to our sources, Annan ducked the questions and instead waxed eloquent on the breakthrough in Iran-Israeli relations which an Israeli pledge to refrain from attacking Iran was capable of effecting.
“With your note in my hand, I can get an interview with Khamenei himself,” he said. The UN secretary rated a meeting with president Mahmoud Ahmadnejad as of “no importance” except as a courtesy call.
Annan explained that, on the strength of an Israeli assurance, he would be able to promise the Iranian leader that he need not fear UN Security Council sanctions or any other unpleasantness and that the nuclear controversy could be worked out amicably.
Olmert and Livni were not convinced. Secretary-General Annan departed Jerusalem empty-handed, as he did Beirut, where Hizballah refused to part with the slightest scrap of information on the abducted Israeli soldiers for him to carry to Jerusalem.