Defense Secretary Leon Panetta traveled to Israel today to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. The trip is Panetta’s first to Israel since becoming Defense Secretary. The Department of Defense described the purpose and itinerary of Panetta’s trip:
With both leaders, Panetta will discuss the strong bilateral defense relationship between the United States and Israel, major security issues across the region and on Israel’s borders, and the dramatic shifts taking place in the Middle East and North Africa.
In Israel, Panetta said, it’s important ‘to reaffirm our strong security relationship’ and to ‘make clear that we will protect their qualitative military edge, and that ... as they take risks for peace that we will be able to provide the security they will need’ to negotiate a peace agreement with the Palestinians….
With the Israelis, Panetta also will discuss the situation in Iran and security threats from that nation.
Talks will address what steps are needed to ensure that Iran does not pursue either its nuclear capabilities or the kind of assistance that it’s provided to terrorists in that part of the world.
It is best that the United States, Israel and all the nations in the region that share common concerns about Iran and its intentions work together, Panetta noted, to make sure everything possible is done to convince Iran not to pursue its nuclear capabilities, undermine regional stability, promote terrorism, not to try to undermine stability in that region or promote terrorism.
The U.S. Embassy in Israel compiled a video of Panetta’s trip, including his visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial. Click here or below to view it.
Netanyahu said before their meeting:
I have to commend you and of course, President Obama, for strengthening that alliance and our cooperation. I look forward to discussing with you in this meeting ways to do that. I think that’s important for our security and that’s important for peace.
Peace has to be achieved, as both President Obama and I have said, through direct negotiations between the parties. Yesterday, Israel welcomed the Quartet statement that called for direct negotiation without preconditions.
Thank you very much. It’s an honor for me to have the opportunity to come here now as Secretary of Defense. I’ve had the good fortune to know the Prime Minister throughout different chapters of our lives, going back to my role as Chief of Staff to President Clinton and a number of other capacities as well. So I look forward to the ability to discuss some of the difficult challenges that face not only Israel but the United States as well.
The most important thing I bring with me is the continuing commitment to the security of Israel. We have been strong allies, we have been strong partners. We have always made a commitment to do everything we can to support the security of Israel and as the Secretary of Defense, I intend to continue that commitment. I think it’s important for us to say to this region that when it comes to the difficult issues we face we stand together to try to confront our difficult and common challenges.
I look forward to our discussions and I look forward to continuing to work with you and others to ensure that we protect the security not only of your country but of the United States.
The Jerusalem Post also compiled a video report of Panetta’s meeting with Barak that can be viewed below or here.
There are no comments for this entry