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US Defense Secretary Touches Down in Israel
Israel's Defense Minister Benny Gantz welcomes US Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III at an official ceremony at the Kirya Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv. (Ariel Hermoni/Israel's Ministry of Defense)

US Defense Secretary Touches Down in Israel

United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin landed in Israel on Sunday morning, becoming the first senior official in President Joe Biden’s administration to visit the Jewish state. During his two-day trip, Austin will meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Chief of the General Staff Aviv Kochavi to discuss the two countries’ policies regarding regional issues, weapons deals and Iran’s nuclear program. Last week, Netanyahu delivered a blunt message to Washington, among others, when he stated Israel “will not be bound one bit by any agreement with Iran that would pave its way for a nuclear weapon. Make no mistake.” Last week, Washington officials conducted indirect talks with Iranian representatives in Vienna, regarding a possible return to the 2015 nuclear deal, that has in recent years been largely hollowed out. Both sides, as well as European intermediaries, called the negotiations “constructive.”

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