In a sign of increased ties between the United States and Israel, a meeting of the joint Defense Policy Advisory Group took place on Wednesday in Tel Aviv to discuss ways to ensure Israel’s military edge in the region.

The main focus of the talks was the West’s ongoing standoff with Iran over its nuclear program as well as the instability in Syria and Israeli concerns that Syria’s sophisticated weaponry and chemical arsenal will fall into rogue hands.

The US was represented at the two-day talks by Undersecretary of Defense for Policy James Miller. Israel was represented by top Defense Ministry officials including director-general Udi Shani and head of the Diplomatic-Security Bureau Amos Gilad.

Discussions were also expected to focus on the continued US support for Israel’s missile defense systems.

While the Obama administration has allocated $275 million since 2011 for the program, Israel is interested in creating a multiyear plan with the US that would ensure a regular budget for missile defense systems that Israel will need to purchase over the coming years.

In October, the US and Israel will hold a massive missile defense exercise called Austere Challenge in the framework of which America will deploy PAC-3 and Aegis defense systems in the country.

The Defense Policy Advisory Group was first established in 1999 under then-president Bill Clinton and prime minister Ehud Barak. Over time though, the group fell into disuse but was revamped and beefed up after President Barack Obama took office in 2009.

The purpose of the group is to meet regularly to discuss ways to ensure that Israel retains a qualitative military edge in the Middle East.

Israel, for example, is concerned with America’s sale of advanced military systems to Gulf States like Saudi Arabia, which is buying dozens of new F-15 fighter jets as well as additional assorted systems.

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