US military head Joseph Dunford will visit Tel Aviv on Monday to meet his Israeli counterparts and discuss fighting the Islamic State on the Jewish state’s borders, according to a report Sunday.
Dunford, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, will meet with IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, according to the report in the Ynet news site
Neither the IDF nor the US Embassy would confirm details of Dunford’s itinerary. American protocol dictates that such confirmations only be released once the chairman is en route to his destination.
According to Ynet, Dunford and the Israeli officials are set to discuss the fighting in Sinai, where an Islamic State affiliate is engaged in a bloody war with Egyptian forces, as well as the situation in Syria, specifically the chemical weapons still believed to be in the control of Syrian President Bashar Assad and the Iranian government’s attempts to transfer advanced weaponry through the country to the Hezbollah terrorist group.
On Wednesday, US President Donald Trump said fighting the Islamic State was a key part of brokering Israeli-Palestinian peace, before meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the White House.
The trip would be Dunford’s third trip to Israel in his position as chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, but his fourth time meeting with Eisenkot.
It was not immediately clear what the rest of Dunford’s itinerary would entail, and if he would only be visiting Israel or would continue on to other countries in the region.
On Sunday, US and Jordanian forces kicked off a large-scale military exercise, known as “Eager Lion,” in which more than 20 nations will take part.
In August, Dunford presented Eisenkot with the Legion of Merit. The medal can be awarded by the US Armed Forces to foreign military and political officials who “distinguished themselves by exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services,” according to US law.
The chairman last visited in Israel in March 2016, when he met with Eisenkot and then-defense minister Moshe Ya’alon.
“My first visit overseas was [to Israel], and I appreciate the warm welcome I had. This is my second [visit] in a short period of time, and I think that reflects what you said — how important this relationship is,” Dunford told Ya’alon during their meeting.
“The relationship between our two countries is about much more than just the military-to-military relationship, but I believe that’s one of the foundational elements,” he added.
AFP contributed to this report.