WASHINGTON -- Defense Secretary James N. Mattis met at the Pentagon today with Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman to discuss mutual security issues, including Iranian malign influence and destabilizing effects in the region, chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana W. White said.
In a statement summarizing the meeting, White said Mattis and Lieberman reaffirmed their commitment to the U.S.-Israeli defense relationship and qualitative military edge, as well as the “unwavering” U.S. commitment to Israel’s security.
Before the meeting, Mattis noted that during his most recent visit to Washington, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reinforced the relationship’s durability, “emphasizing that the U.S. and Israel's tremendous friendship has never been stronger, and our unwavering bond is built now on a foundation of mutual respect, shared democratic values and aligned global interests, coupled, of course, with decades, now, of robust defense cooperation.”
The U.S. and Israeli militaries have never worked more closely together than they do today, Mattis said, noting recent joint exercises and training events such as the joint Juniper Cobra exercise held in Israel last month.
“It keeps the U.S. force and the Israeli defense forces fit for our times,” the secretary said. “These exercises further enhanced our militaries' shared capabilities, their joint lethality and interoperability, while bolstering our ability to respond rapidly in times of need. Our continued military-to-military cooperation is critical to making a stable and secure Middle East a reality, especially in the face of an Iran intent on spreading its malign influence across the region.”