Fri, 07 May 2021

US Defense Secretary Austin Visits Israel

Voice of America
12 Apr 2021, 07:35 GMT+10

The U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin visited Israel Sunday, his first stop on a two-day trip to the Middle Eastern country.

"I'm looking forward to a series of robust discussions with our Israeli friends on regional security issues," Secretary Austin posted on Twitter upon arrival. "I'm grateful to call Israel a major strategic partner."

Austin is the first high-level member from U.S. President Joe Biden's Cabinet to travel to Israel since Biden's administration's announcement to rekindling of talks in order to revive the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.

Austin met with his Israeli counterpart Benny Gantz Sunday. Speaking after their meeting, he called the U.S.-Israeli relationship central to regional stability and security in the Middle East, and reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to Israel as enduring and as ironclad.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been a staunch critic of the nuclear deal with Iran and welcomed former President Donald Trump's withdrawing for pact.

Last week, Netanyahu said that an agreement with Iran "would pave the way to nuclear weapons - weapons that threaten our extinction."

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has announced the inauguration of a cascade of 164 IR-6 centrifuges for producing enriched uranium, as well as two test cascades - of 30 IR-5 and 30 IR-6S devices respectively - at Iran's Natanz uranium enrichment plant, in a ceremony broadcast by state television.

There was an accident Sunday to Natanz's electrical grid, but no injuries were reported.

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