Defense Secretary declared the U.S.’s “enduring and ironclad” commitment to Israel on Sunday.
The Associated Press reports that Austin made the remarks after meeting with Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz in Tel Aviv, the first visit to Israel by a member of ’s cabinet.
“Our commitment to Israel is enduring and ironclad,” Austin said following his meeting with Gantz.
The comments come as tensions in Israel have been high over its desire to limit Iran’s military influence while the U.S. is exploring negotiations to rejoin the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. The AP notes that Austin made no mention of Iran during his visit in Israel.
Gantz said Israel considers the U.S. a “full partner” against threats, “not the least, Iran.”
“The Tehran of today presents a strategic threat to international security, the entire Middle East and to the state of Israel,” Gantz said in a statement. “We will work closely with our American allies to ensure that any new agreement with Iran will secure the vital interests of the world and of the United States, prevent a dangerous arms race in our region and protect the state of Israel.”
The AP notes that the Israeli government views a nuclear agreement with Iran as inherently flawed. Israeli Prime Minister referring to Iran as an existential threat to Israel over its pursuit of a nuclear program.
Austin’s visit to Israel is part of a multi-stop tour of U.S. allies “to discuss the importance of international defense relationships, and reinforce the United States’ commitment to deterrence and defense, burden sharing, and enduring trans-Atlantic security.” He will also travel to Germany, the United Kingdom and NATO headquarters in Belgium.
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