October 28th, 2015 12:09 EST
U.S., Israel Seek to Boost Defense Ties, Ash Carter Says
The United States is seeking to bolster its strong defense ties with Israel amid many security challenges Israel faces in the Middle East, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said today.
The defense relationship between the United States and Israel is stronger than ever, Carter said during an appearance at the National Defense University with Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon.
"Israel is a cornerstone of our strategy in the Middle East, and its security is a top priority for America, for our military, and President Obama and me personally," Carter said.
"There are few nations that face such a dynamic and daunting strategic environment as our ally Israel," Carter told the audience of U.S. and international students.
Israel Faces `Complicated` Security Challenges
Carter, who is hosting Yaalon for a two-day visit aimed at advancing their countries` defense relationship, recalled traveling to Israel`s border with Lebanon in July and seeing "how real and how close" the threat from Hezbollah is to Israel.
"We will continue to find new ways to work together to confront Israel`s complicated security challenges and to show the world that the defense relationship between the United States and Israel is stronger than ever," Carter said.
The "Middle East is going through dramatic changes and experiencing generational crises that threaten Israel from every direction," he said.
The United States, he said, will maintain support for Israel`s missile defense, including Iron Dome, David`s Sling and the Arrow air defense systems. The United States will continue to make advanced capabilities available to Israel, he added, noting that next year Israel will be the first and only U.S. ally in the Middle East with the F-35 joint strike fighter.
"As we have since its founding, the United States stands with Israel, and we always will," the secretary said.
Carter and Yaalon are to visit Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland tomorrow for a demonstration of the joint Israeli-U.S. developed technologies on the F-35. They also will visit U.S. Cyber Command to talk about U.S.-Israeli cooperation in the cyber domain, Carter said.
Israel `Lucky` to Have Strong Ally in U.S.
Israel faces daily violence against its people, and is surrounded by parties that do not recognize the nation`s right to exist, Yaalon said. The Middle East, he added, is being dominated by radicalism and extremism that threatens the internal security of countries in the region, as well as the security of Israel, European nations and the United States.
The one country that can be the leader of the world in the 21st century, he said, is the United States. "That`s why we so appreciate the relationship between our country and the United States, based on common values as well as common interests," he told the NDU audience.
"For us, the relationship between Israel and the United States is the cornerstone in our national security concept," Yaalon said. Israel is lucky to have such an ally in the United States, he added, especially in light of the chronic instability in the Middle East.
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