Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon on Tuesday night held his first telephone conversation with his US counterpart Chuck Hagel after being sworn in to his new position on Monday evening.

Hagel congratulated Ya'alon, who took over the Defense Ministry from Ehud Barak, on his new position.

Ya'alon returned congratulations to Hagel, who took over from Leon Panetta as US secretary of defense last month. He also praised Hagel for his plans to visit Israel for the first time as secretary of defense next month.

"I hold in very high regard the security and strategic relations between our countries and expect increased cooperation between the two defense establishments, Hagel stated. "The United States and Israel share common interests in the face of developments in the Middle East," he added.

Ya'alon echoed Hagel's sentiments, adding that he hoped he could also strengthen his personal ties with Hagel.

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