US defense chief: We will do all we can to help Israel defend itself

US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter met with his Israeli counterpart on Monday, marking the first visit by a US cabinet official to Israel since last week’s landmark agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program.


Carter met with Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon in Tel Aviv and is slated to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday, who has voiced strong opposition to the deal and referred to it as a “historic mistake.”


Carter, standing at the Hussein Lookout, not far from the northern Israeli border town of Manara, promised to help, trying to reassure Israel of steadfast US support following last week’s deal between Tehran and six world powers.


“Hezbollah is sponsored, of course, by Iran which is one of the reasons why the United States will continue to help Israel counter Iranian malign influence in this region,” Carter told reporters travelling with him.


During a joint press conference held later that day by the two defense chiefs, Carter reaffirmed the US was committed to helping Israel defend itself in any way possible, specifically by proving joint training, ongoing funding for missile defense, and military equipment.


“Israel’s security and military edge are a top priority for America, our military, and for me,” he said, adding that Washington’s alliance with Jerusalem has “never been stronger.”


For his part, Ya’alon reiterated Israel’s worries about the agreement, saying Jerusalem “greatly disagrees” with the deal that was reached between Western powers and Tehran in Vienna.


“The scope and depth of the relationship between the defense establishments of the United States and Israel is unprecedented – between the Pentagon and the Ministry of Defense, between our armed forces, intelligence corps and defense industries,” he added on a more positive note.


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