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US gathered top Israeli, Arab military chiefs for secret talks on Iran – report

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (C), IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi (R) and Gen. Frank McKenzie, the head of US Central Command, pose for a photo on March 3, 2022. (Haim Zach/GPO)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (C), IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi (R) and Gen. Frank McKenzie, the head of US Central Command, pose for a photo on March 3, 2022. (Haim Zach/GPO)

The US convened a summit of top regional defense officials from Israel and Arab counties to discuss coordination against Iran’s missile and drone threat, the Wall Street Journal reports, citing US and regional sources to reveal details of the previously secret meeting.

The talks, held at Sharm el Sheikh in March, included participants from Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Jordan.

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi, attended as did Fayyadh bin Hamed Al Ruwaili, chief of staff of the Saudi armed forces. Representing the US was Gen. Frank McKenzie, the-then head of the US Central Command.

It was the first time that such high ranking officers from Israel and Arab countries met under US military auspices, according to the report.

Participants reached an agreement in principle on methods for rapid notification of aerial threats, according to sources familiar with the talks. However, the alerts would be passed by phone or computer and not through a US-style military data sharing system, sources said.

The understandings are not binding but a future step will be to obtain the backing of regional leaders to formalize the notification system and look at broadening the cooperation.

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