Panetta Touts US-Israeli Defense Ties

Posted August 1st, 2012 at 5:25 am (UTC-5)
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U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says the United States and Israel are doing everything they can to have the “strongest defense” and protect both countries, as he opened a day of meetings with Israeli leaders.

Panetta met Wednesday with his Israeli counterpart Ehud Barak in Tel Aviv, and said the two countries have a “very close friendship.”

His visit also includes talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres.

Panetta said those discussions will focus on the threat Iran's nuclear program poses to Israel and the United States, and the various ways to respond.

He denied reports that the meetings would cover potential plans for a preemptive attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.

Panetta arrived in Israel from Egypt, where he met with newly elected President Mohamed Morsi. He described Mr. Morsi as being “his own man,” despite his ties to the conservative Muslim Brotherhood, and said the Egyptian leader is committed to democratic reforms.

Panetta called U.S.-Egyptian military relations an anchor of regional stability for 30 years.