Itongadol.- US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel met with his Israeli counterpart Ehud Barak Tuesday at the Pentagon, the Pentagon Press Secretary reported.
Hagel\’s meeting with Barak marked the US defense secretary\’s first meeting with a foreign counterpart since taking office. Upon meeting, Hagel saluted Barak.
According to the Pentagon, "Secretary Hagel expressed his strong commitment to Israel’s security, including maintaining Israel’s qualitative military edge and continued US support for missile and rocket defense systems in spite of fiscal constraints.
Secretary Hagel and Minister Barak agreed that the United States-Israeli defense relationship has never been stronger than during the Obama administration and that both nations will continue this unprecedented close cooperation."
Pentagon Press Secretary George Little added that "The leaders discussed the range of security interests shared by the US and Israel, including the need for the Syrian regime to maintain control over chemical and biological weapons in their country."
The Pentagon statement stressed that, in regards to the war in Syria, "the leaders pledged to continue US-Israel contingency planning to counter that potential threat."
The two defense ministers also discussed the issue of Iran\’s nuclear ability, as "Hagel reiterated that President Obama is committed to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon with all options on the table. He stated that the United States continues to believe there is still time to address this issue through diplomacy, but that window is closing."
Hagel noted that he and Barak "have had an outstanding working relationship, dating back to Minister Barak’s days as prime minister."
The US defense secretary said he wanted to visit Israel soon, and Barak stressed that Israel was looking forward to Hagel\’s visit.
Barak\’s current visit to the US will likely be his last as defense minister. His visit is nonetheless considered important by Israeli leadership, as the Israeli issue was considered to be part of the reason for delays in Hagel\’s nomination for office.