US ambassador denies Israel won't get early warning: "There's no way we would surprise an ally"

The Jerusalem Post

10 March 2003

US ambassador Dan Kurtzer vehemently denied reports today that Washington would balk at giving Israel an early warning before launching a war against Iraq.

The reports were based on assessments that the US was concerned about the risk of Israeli officials leaking the news.

"There is no way we are going to surprise an ally. I don't know where those press reports came from. They are without foundation," Kurtzer said.

He spoke after a meeting with Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, just a week after Shalom took over from Binyamin Netanyahu. The two reportedly discussed the latest Palestinian step of naming a prime minister, Mahmud Abbas.

Shalom reiterated Israeli hopes that Abbas would wield enough authority to implement reform in the Palestinian Authority.

On the issue of the impending Iraq war, Shalom urged Israeli officials to stop speaking out publicly on the issue. He said that contact with the US is "ongoing, and I believe this will continue to be the case, and that this isn't conditional upon anything."