US Defence Secretary reaches out to his counterparts in world

Last Updated: Wednesday, March 6, 2013 - 11:36

Washington: Newly appointed US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel has reached out to his half-a-dozen counterparts from other countries, as he held his first meeting with Israeli Defence Minister at the Pentagon on Wednesday.

"Hagel has spoken by phone this week with counterparts and foreign leaders from around the world, all of whom congratulated him on taking office as secretary of defense," Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said.

Hagel spoke with his counterparts in in Afghanistan, Australia, Canada, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and United Kingdom.

"In each of these calls, Secretary Hagel expressed his personal commitment to ensuring strong military-to-military relationships even as the United States faces budget constraints and fiscal uncertainty in Washington," he said.

Little said, the Defence Secretary believes that the US must do all it can to develop and strengthen coalitions of common interest to confront violent extremism, prevent proliferation of weapons, deter aggression and promote regional stability.

"Secretary Hagel looks forward to working closely with his counterparts on these mutual security challenges," he said.

In his meeting with Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak at the Pentagon, the two leaders agreed that the US-Israeli defense relationship has never been stronger than during the Obama administration and that both nations will continue this unprecedented close cooperation, his spokesman said.

"The leaders discussed the range of security interests shared by the US and Israel, including the need for the Syrian regime to maintain control over chemical and biological weapons in their country; the leaders pledged to continue US-Israel contingency planning to counter that potential threat," Little said.

Regarding Iran, Hagel reiterated that President Barack Obama is committed to prevent Tehran from obtaining a nuclear weapon with all options on the table.

He stated that the United States continues to believe there is still time to address this issue through diplomacy, but that window is closing, he said.

"Hagel noted the two have had an outstanding working relationship dating back to Minister Barak`s days as Prime Minister and he thanked Minister Barak for his kind words at the AIPAC policy conference. Secretary Hagel expressed his desire to visit Israel soon and Minister Barak stated that Israel looks forward to hosting him in the near future," Little said.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, March 6, 2013 - 11:36

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