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US, Israeli defense chiefs to meet in Washington next month

Ashton Carter ‘looking forward’ to talks with Moshe Ya’alon on security cooperation, Pentagon says

US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter (left), and Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon (right) arrive for their joint news conference at the headquarters of the Israel Defense Forces in Tel Aviv on July 20, 2015. (AP/Carolyn Kaster, Pool)
US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter (left), and Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon (right) arrive for their joint news conference at the headquarters of the Israel Defense Forces in Tel Aviv on July 20, 2015. (AP/Carolyn Kaster, Pool)

US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon will meet in late October in Washington to discuss security cooperation between the two allies, the Pentagon announced Thursday.

Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said the meeting would “underscore the strength of the US-Israeli defense relationship and further several of the initiatives discussed during Secretary Carter’s visit to Israel in July.

“The secretary is looking forward to the visit by Minister Ya’alon,” Cook added.

The US is expected to boost defense aid to the Jewish state in compensation for the Iran nuclear deal, which Israel has forcefully opposed. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had reportedly refused in past months to discuss a compensation defense package.

Carter visited Israel in July as part of a week-long Middle East tour that included stops in Jordan and Saudi Arabia, in what was perceived as a bid to reassure a skeptical Israel over the nuclear deal.

In another sign of a thaw in the chilly relations between the US and Israel, the White House on Wednesday confirmed that US President Barack Obama and Netanyahu will meet in Washington on November 9.

It will be the first formal meeting between the two leaders in months.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the two men will discuss the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal and other regional issues, as well as efforts to counter the Islamic State’s activities in the region.

Obama pointedly refused to see Netanyahu in March when the Israeli leader appeared before a joint meeting of Congress to harshly criticize the US-negotiated nuclear deal with Iran, which regularly urges Israel’s annihilation. Republican lawmakers had arranged Netanyahu’s appearance without White House input.

AP contributed to this report.

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