Trump says never mentioned Israel when providing info to Russia

2017-05-22 22:56
US President Donald Trump (L) and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands after delivering press statements prior to an official dinner in Jerusalem on May 22, 2017. (AFP)

US President Donald Trump (L) and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands after delivering press statements prior to an official dinner in Jerusalem on May 22, 2017. (AFP)

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Jerusalem - US President Donald Trump sought to defend himself against criticism that he provided Israeli intelligence to Russia as he met Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Monday.

Trump, responding to a journalist's question on the subject alongside Netanyahu, said "I never mentioned the word or the name Israel."

"Never mentioned during that conversation," he said. "They're all saying I did, so you have another story wrong. Never mentioned the word Israel."

Netanyahu then said "intelligence cooperation is terrific. It's never been better."

The Washington Post reported last week that Trump revealed what it said was highly classified information on the ISIS group during a recent meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Moscow's Washington ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

It said that Trump told Lavrov about a specific ISIS bomb threat.

A US administration official confirmed on condition of anonymity that the original intelligence came from Israel, which was initially reported by the New York Times.

After the news emerged, Trump took to Twitter to insist he had the "absolute right" to share "facts pertaining... to terrorism and airline flight safety" with Russia.

But the episode raised concerns that it could corrode trust among allies who shared classified information with the US on the understanding that it will go no further.

Israel has sought to downplay the concerns, saying security ties with the US will continue to be strong.

The US is Israel's most important ally, providing it with more than $3bn per year in defence aid, and the two countries share highly sensitive intelligence on common enemies.


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