Top US defense official to Israel next week for talks on Iran, Lebanon, Syria: Report

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The US secretary of defense is heading to Israel next week, officials from Tel Aviv were quoted as saying on Tuesday.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is expected to discuss security threats from Iran, Lebanon and Syria, according to American news website Axios.

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Austin will Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and his counterpart Benny Gantz, Israeli officials told Axios.

After making several foreign policy moves that signaled a reduced interest in the Middle East, Austin will be the first senior US official from the Biden administration to visit Israel.

Biden waited for weeks before calling Netanyahu in a sign that he intends to alter Washington’s ties with Israel.

The Trump administration heavily favored Israel and emboldened Tel Aviv to make several unilateral moves regarding Palestine and illegal settlements.

Asked by Al Arabiya English about Austin’s trip, the Pentagon said they did not have any trips to announce.

On Tuesday, Netanyahu voiced his opposition to the now-defunct Iran nuclear deal, which the Biden administration is attempting to revive.

Officials from Tehran and the US are in Vienna this week to discuss ways for both sides to come back into compliance with the deal that former President Donald Trump withdrew from after taking office.

US officials have repeatedly stated their intent to maintain a strong relationship with Israel. When asked if the US coordinated with Israel or its Gulf allies ahead of this week’s talks in Vienna, the State Department refused to comment.

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