US Defence Secretary Austin assures Israel of US support after talks

Tel Aviv, April 11, (dpa/GNA) – US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin reassured Israel of its continued military support on Sunday, in the first visit to the country by a member of new US President Joe Biden’s Cabinet.

Austin was received with military honours before meeting his counterpart Benny Gantz.

Austin said after the talks that Washington would continue to guarantee the “qualitative military edge” of the Israel military. “Our commitment to Israel is enduring and iron clad,” he said.

Gantz said after the meeting that Israel hoped for a better deal to be agreed in the future with Iran over its disputed nuclear programme, and it would “work closely” with the United States to achieve this.

Israel had been vehemently opposed to the original 2015 deal and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu considers Iran to be Israel’s most dangerous enemy. Talks on reviving the deal, which was rejected by the previous US administration, took place in Vienna earlier in the week.

“The Tehran of today poses a strategic threat to international security, to the entire Middle East and to the state of Israel,” Gantz said.

Austin is also due to meet Netanyahu during his two-day visit. Netanyahu is in an uncertain political position as he tries to pull together enough seats to form a coalition government after recent elections.

Austin is not expected to visit the Palestinian Territories, although Biden has signalled that he wants to rebuild ties with the Palestinians.

The previous administration under Donald Trump made several major diplomatic moves which were welcomed by Israel but denigrated by the Palestinians, including moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, and weakening support for a two-state solution.

Austin is expected in Germany on Tuesday, and in Brussels after that.

Source: Ghana News Agency

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