Israeli, US finance chiefs meet, agree to keep coordinating on Iran sanctions

Kahlon hosts Mnuchin in Jerusalem before new US Embassy dedication for discussion of terror funds, joint projects, tax issues

Michael Bachner is a news editor at The Times of Israel

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (L) meeting in his Jerusalem office with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on May 14, 2018. (Finance Ministry)
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (L) meeting in his Jerusalem office with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on May 14, 2018. (Finance Ministry)

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and his American counterpart on Monday discussed coordination and cooperation on Iran sanctions and praised the US Embassy relocation to Jerusalem.

In his third meeting with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin since US President Donald Trump was sworn in, Kahlon said cooperation between the countries has “increased dramatically” since the new administration came to power last year, according to a readout from his office.

Kahlon expressed his gratitude for the embassy move, for the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and for the “courageous” withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, “which was a real danger to Israel.”

Mnuchin said he was happy to be in Jerusalem for the “historic” event.

“We are working together on so many issues, mainly combating terror and funding sources for terror in the region,” he was quoted as saying.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu 2nd left, his wife Sara Netanyahu, left, Senior White House Adviser Jared Kushner 3rd left, US President’s daughter Ivanka Trump, center, US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, right, and US ambassador to Israel David Friedman, 2nd right, attend the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem on May 14, 2018. (MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP)

Mnuchin came to Israel as part of the US delegation to the ceremony dedicating the country’s new embassy in Jerusalem.

It was the third time the two have met since January 2017, and the second time they did so in Kahlon’s office in Jerusalem.

Kahlon’s office said that the two men discussed the subject of economic sanctions on Iran, now that the US has left the nuclear deal that relieved most of the sanctions in exchange for curbing Tehran’s nuclear program.

The ministers also agreed to continue cooperating on battling terror funding and money laundering, as well as on various projects involving Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

US President Donald Trump signs a document reinstating sanctions against Iran, after announcing the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, in the Diplomatic Reception Room at the White House in Washington, DC, on May 8, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB)

They also discussed potential repercussions for Israeli companies caused by Trump’s tax reform, as well as the possibility of upgrading tax agreements between Israel and the US to benefit companies from both countries.

Some 800 guests attended the embassy dedication. Representing the US at the opening, besides Mnuchin, were US Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, the president’s daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump, and Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt. US Ambassador David Friedman was presiding over the dedication ceremony.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin, and other senior Israeli officials also attended the event.

Trump announced on December 6, 2017, that he was recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and would move the embassy there from Tel Aviv.

The development delighted the Israeli government, but angered Palestinians who want the eastern part of the city as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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