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Iran nuclear talks: US defence chief in Israel

International desk || shiningbd

Published: 16:52, 11 April 2021   Update: 16:53, 11 April 2021
Iran nuclear talks: US defence chief in Israel

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is the first high-level official from the Biden administration to visit Israel [File: Reuters]

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has arrived in Israel on the first visit by a senior representative of President Joe Biden’s administration, whose stance on Iran has worried Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.

Israel views the United States as a “full partner” and will work closely with its ally to ensure any new diplomatic accord with Iran does not compromise regional security, Defence Minister Benny Gantz told his US counterpart on Sunday.

Austin told his host that Washington views their alliance as central to regional security as well as “enduring and ironclad”.

Austin’s two-day visit comes just days after talks restarted on reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Washington said it offered “very serious” ideas on reviving the hobbled agreement that is staunchly opposed by Israel.

Austin was to meet Netanyahu during the visit, which officials said would include discussions of US arms supplies to Israel.

Netanyahu has been a fierce critic of the Iran nuclear deal, dating back to when it was being negotiated during Barack Obama’s administration.

The Israeli prime minister applauded when former US President Donald Trump withdrew from the deal and reimposed sanctions on Tehran, which responded by stepping back from several of its commitments under the deal.