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US Air Force chief completes secretive week-long visit to Israel
August 8, 2013 18:20
Visit reportedly kept secret due to an American request for confidentiality, in light of regional tensions.
US Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh

US Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh 370. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Gen. Mark A. Welsh, chief of staff of the US Air Force, completed a secretive week-long visit to Israel in recent days.

This ahead of the expected arrival of Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, due here on Monday.

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News of Welsh’s arrival was broken by Walla and independently confirmed by The Jerusalem Post; few details were available.

Welsh visited as a guest of Israel Air Force chief Maj.- Gen. Amir Eshel.

According to Walla, the visit was kept secret due to an American request for confidentiality, in light of regional tensions and against the background of Israeli threats to strike Iran if it continues developing its nuclear program.

The report added that the visit, Welsh’s first to Israel, was highly productive and produced “new channels of communications.”

Dempsey, who is to arrive as a guest of IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz, is expected to discuss developments in Iran, Syria and Egypt with Israeli leaders.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has signaled that Israel’s patience is running out over Tehran’s nuclear progress.

Dempsey might use the visit to gauge Israeli intentions, and to try to convince Israel to refrain from dramatic decisions in the near future, to give diplomacy with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani a chance.

Ongoing instability in Syria, its chemical-weapons arsenal, and the growing radical jihadi presence in the country will likely form another top-priority point for discussions during the visit.
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