Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon today held a joint press conference with visiting US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. Speaking at Defense Ministry headquarters at the Kirya in Tel Aviv, Hagel said that the sides had agreed that, "The US will provide Israel with a range of military weapons including missiles, advanced radar systems, refueling aircraft and V-22 aircraft that we have not given to any other country."
He added that this ensures Israel's air superiority and will allow the Israel Air Force (IAF) long-range capabilities.
Ya'alon for his part received Hagel warmly as, "My friend," and described him as his US colleague and added that he was glad of this first visit to Israel since Hagel assumed office in February. Ya'alon said, "We are confronting a shared threat - and above all else Iran. Iran not only threatens the stability of the Middle East but also the entire world."
He added, "Iran is threatening to wipe Israel off the map, supports Hezbollah in Lebanon and helps the Syrian regime kill thousands of innocent civilians."
Ya'alon told Hagel, quoting President Barack Obama, "Israel has the right to defend itself by itself from every threat." But he added, "In any event Israel prefers diplomatic solutions."
Hagel arrived in Israel Sunday morning and will be here for two days. The visit will include pushing forward on the signing of a new arms deal which will see the Pentagon sell Israel V-22 aircraft, and new refueling planes. Hagel will also meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and President Shimon Peres.
After leaving Israel Hagel will travel on to Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE to promote the sale of F-16 fighter aircraft.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on April 22, 2013
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