Amid tensions over the indirect nuclear talks between the U.S. and Iran, American Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin will arrive in Israel today and meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz.
According to an official statement by the US Department of Defense, the objective of his visit is "to continue close consultations on shared priorities, and reaffirm the enduring U.S. commitment to the U.S.-Israel strategic partnership and Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge." Austin is the first senior official from the Biden administration to visit Israel.
Israel is the first stop in an official trip by Secretary Austin, that will also include Germany, the NATO headquarters in Belgium, and England, in order "to discuss the importance of international defense relationships, and reinforce the United States’ commitment to deterrence and defense, burden sharing, and enduring trans-Atlantic security," according to the statement.
The central issues the Secretary is expected to discuss during his various meetings include Iran, of course, as well as the aggressive behavior of Russia, the rise of China, the deployment of American forces in Europe, terror, and various global challenges such as climate change and the COVID-19 crisis.