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Pentagon Chief Heads to Israel for Talks

  • VOA News

FILE - Defense Secretary Ash Carter, left, testifies before the House Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 17, 2015.

FILE - Defense Secretary Ash Carter, left, testifies before the House Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 17, 2015.

U.S. defense chief Ash Carter is headed to Israel to assess its security needs in the aftermath of last week's historic international nuclear deal with Iran.

The secretary of defense is set to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has called the accord to keep Iran from developing a nuclear weapon a "historic mistake" and is calling for its rejection in the U.S. Congress.

Carter said in advance of the trip he has no intention of trying to reverse Netanyahu's opposition to the pact, but hopes to strengthen U.S.-Israeli military cooperation.

Carter is also meeting with Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon and Israeli generals, visiting troops in northern Israel, as they consider ongoing regional threats to the country's security and the U.S. sale of advanced weaponry to Persian Gulf Arab states.

The U.S. sends $3 billion in annual military aid to the Jewish state, with Israel signaling Friday it could eventually ask for more. Despite Israel's opposition to Iran's accord with the United States and five other world powers, Yaalon suggested that U.S. congressional approval of the Iranian pact is a foregone conclusion and that Israel's "situation here has changed and must be studied."

"We will ultimately, of course, have to go and talk about the trade-offs that Israel has coming to it in order to preserve a qualitative [military] edge," Yaalon said.

After his stop in the Jewish state, Carter is visiting Jordan and Saudi Arabia, two other U.S. allies concerned about the Iranian pact.

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