Tel Aviv, Oct. 3 - In his first visit to Israel as United States Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta stressed America’s “unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security.” In a meeting with Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Panetta said that Israel and America share a closer defense relationship than ever before.
“It [cooperation] is yielding tangible benefits and it’s helping to save lives,” Panetta said to the press-corps attending the meeting. He cited missile defense technology, counterterrorism and joint military exercises as leading examples of cooperation.
The leaders also discussed Iran’s nuclear program and Israel’s regional security environment. Panetta said Iran should cease developing its nuclear program and funding terror groups in order to enter into the international community.
He also said that “bold moves” are needed to move towards a negotiated solution between Israelis and Palestinians. He stressed that there are no alternatives to negotiations.