Pelosi denies Olmert proposed U.S. blockade of Iran

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert did not propose a U.S. naval blockade of Iran during talks with U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the California Democrat’s office said on Thursday.

Responding to a report this week in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Pelosi spokesman Nadeam Elshami said the lawmaker and the U.S. delegation she led met only once with Olmert during a May 16-20 visit to Israel and Iraq.

“During the luncheon meeting with Prime Minister Olmert, there was never any mention of a U.S. naval blockade of Iranian ports,” Elshami said in a statement. He declined to comment further.

The daily Haaretz on Wednesday quoted Olmert as telling Pelosi “the present economic sanctions have exhausted themselves” and saying the international community needed to take more drastic steps to stop Iran’s efforts to obtain nuclear weapons.

The prime minister’s suggestions, the newspaper said, included a naval blockade of Iran using U.S. warships to limit the movement of Iranian merchant vessels.

An Olmert spokesman has declined to comment on the Israeli leader’s meeting with the U.S. congresswoman on Monday in Jerusalem, calling it confidential.

On her return to Washington, Pelosi said she and the congressional delegation had discussed with Israeli leaders “the threat posed by Iran.”

Three rounds of limited U.N. sanctions have been imposed on Iran over its nuclear program but Iran has said it will not cease uranium enrichment. Israel, widely believed to have atomic weapons, has said the Iranian nuclear program is a risk to its existence.

Olmert plans to visit Washington in two weeks for talks.

(Reporting by David Morgan, editing by Vicki Allen)


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