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US defence secretary meets Netanyahu in Jerusalem

Secretary of Defence James Mattis on 17 February, 2017 [Andreas Gebert/Anadolu Agency]
Secretary of Defence James Mattis on 17 February, 2017 [Andreas Gebert/Anadolu Agency]

US Defence Secretary James Mattis met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem today.

In a statement released before his meeting with Mattis, Netanyahu said he sensed a “great change” in the direction of US foreign policy.

“This change is welcomed in our region and world – a strategic change of American leadership and policy,” he said.

At the meeting, Mattis reiterated Washington’s longstanding commitment to Israel’s security.

It is important to remind ourselves that if good people do not unite, bad people will do harm … We are obligated to do whatever it takes to ensure that the next generation lives in peace and freedom

he said.

Earlier the same day, at a joint press conference with his Israeli counterpart Avigdor Lieberman, Mattis asserted that Syria’s Assad regime continued to maintain a chemical-weapons stockpile.

“There is no doubt that Syria has retained chemical weapons in violation of the UN Security Council resolution,” Mattis said, referring to UNSC Resolution 2118 of 2013, which called on the Assad regime to give up its stocks of chemical arms.

Addressing recent Iranian threats to Israel, Mattis said that Washington recognised the threat posed to Israel and other states of the region by Iranian ballistic missiles.

“Iran continues to threaten Israel and its neighbours with ballistic missiles through its cooperation with Lebanon’s Hezbollah,” he said.

Mattis is also expected to meet with Israeli Army Chief-of-Staff Gadi Eizenkot.

The US defence chief arrived in Israel yesterday for a two-day visit. His visit comes as part of a regional tour that brought him to Egypt and Saudi Arabia earlier this week.

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