Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, completed his second day in Israel on Tuesday, meeting Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and holding key security talks on Iran, Syria and the Egyptian Sinai.
At a photo opportunity just prior to the meeting, Netanyahu said that the threat of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons dwarfs all of the numerous and considerable other threats in the region.
“We can work and are working together to make sure that doesn’t happen,” he said.
Netanyahu told Dempsey that he appreciated US President Barack Obama’s comments during his visit here in March, about the strength of the US-Israel strategic alliance, security cooperation and “his statement reaffirming once again that Israel must be able to defend itself, by itself, against any threat.”
The US military chief will meet with Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon on Wednesday.
American media outlets quoted Dempsey this week as saying that Washington is getting a better picture of moderate Syrian rebel organizations it seeks to support against the regime of Bashar Assad.
According to a USA Today report, Dempsey said he remained concerned about “the potential that the extremist ideologies will hijack what started out to be a kind of a popular movement to overthrow an oppressive regime,” but that the US and its allies are improving their understanding of the moderate elements among the Syrian opposition.
“I think we are in a better position than we were six months ago, in that regard of understanding the various players and their motivations,” Dempsey said, according to the report.
On Monday, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz received Dempsey at General Staff Headquarters in Tel Aviv with a guard of honor.
Dempsey will next travel to Jordan, where the US has kept military forces, including an F-16 squadron, on standby for potential developments in neighboring Syria.
Herb Keinon contributed to this report.
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