U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin landed in Israel on Sunday in the first official visit by a US official since President Joe Biden took office in January.
Austin’s visit will include discussions about US arms supplies to Israel and “reassurances” on the current US discussions on rejoining the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
Austin traveled to the Kirya IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv and was welcomed at an official welcoming ceremony followed by meetings with Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Defense Ministry Director-General Amir Eshel, the head of the Strategy and Third-Circle Directorate, Maj. Gen. Tal Kalman, and the head of the Political-Military Bureau at the Defense Ministry, Zohar Palti.
שר ההגנה האמריקני לויד אוסטין הגיע לישראל. זהו ביקור פיזי ראשון של בכיר מטעם ממשל ביידן בארץ, כאשר ברקע כל בכירי הממשל ממעטים בביקורים פיזיים בגלל המגיפה.
— Ariel Kahana אריאל כהנא (@arik3000) April 11, 2021
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met with Defense Minister Gantz, IDF Chief of Staff Kohavi, and MoD Director Amir Eshel in the IDF HQ in Tel Aviv pic.twitter.com/qPaua9qpxI
— Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian (@manniefabian) April 11, 2021
On Monday, Austin, accompanied by Defense Minister Benny Gantz, will visit the Nevatim airbase, where he will be briefed by Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin and review security developments advanced by Israeli industries in cooperation with the US.
Austin and Gantz will then tour Yad Vashem and visit Memorial Hall on Har Herzl – a day before Israel marks Yom HaZikaron on Tuesday night/Wednesday for Israeli soldiers who lost their lives defending Israel.
Austin’s final meeting on Monday will be with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, marking the end of his two-day trip.
After concluding his visit to Israel, Austin will travel to Germany, the NATO Headquarters in Belgium, and the UK before returning to the US.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)