IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot .
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot is in Washington on a four-day working visit where he will attend a counterterrorism conference hosted by the United States, the army said Sunday morning.
During his visit Eisenkot, who will be joined by Israel’s defense attaché to the US, Maj.-Gen. Mickey Edelstein, and the head of the IDF’s international relations unit, Brig.-Gen. Erez Maisal, will meet with senior American defense officials as well as the heads of US European Command (EUCOM) and US Central Command (CENTCOM).
“During the visit, the chief of staff will hold working meetings with US security and military officials, as well as a series of meetings with foreign chiefs of staff, in which they will discuss shared challenges, regional and security developments in the Middle East and military cooperation,” read a statement by the IDF.
While in Washington the Chief of Staff will meet with military leaders from around the globe at the second annual conference of the chiefs of staff to discuss counter-extremism strategy organized by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford.
It is the first time that Israel participates in the conference, which was attended last year by the chiefs of staff of 43 nations and the commanders of the US combatant commands.
The military leaders are expected to discuss how to promote strategic unity by sharing lessons from military activities and how to identify ways to contribute to essential cooperation issues.
Eisenkot is also scheduled to visit a joint exercise carried out by the IDF and the US Cyber Command on electronic warfare.
The Deputy Chief of Staff, Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, will replace Eisenkot as the head of the military in the Chief of Staff's absence.
Eisenkot’s trip comes on the heels of a visit by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman in Washington, where he met with US Defense Secretary James Mattis and US National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster to discuss regional strategic issues and ways to strengthen security and intelligence cooperation between the two allies.
While in Washington Liberman reaffirmed Israel’s position on Iran’s entrenchment in Syria, calling Iran the “biggest and most dangerous source of terror in the world” and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps the “largest and most dangerous terror organization in the world.”
Israeli officials, including Liberman, have repeatedly voiced concerns over the smuggling of sophisticated weaponry to Hezbollah and the growing Iranian presence on Israel's borders, stressing that both are red-lines for the Jewish State.
“Iran aspires to turn Syria into a front-line against Israel, also on the Golan Heights, and is working to establish air and naval bases on Syrian soil and to infiltrate tens of thousands of fighters from Shi'ite militias. We will not tolerate a situation in which Iran and its satellites will sit along our borders and we will defend our interests in every way we see fit and according to our red lines,” the defense minister said.
Liberman’s visit to the United States came after Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu made his first official to the Jewish State to discuss regional security issues such as the Syrian conflict and Iran’s growing presence
in the war-torn country.
Shoigu stated that due to the current situation in the Middle East, he hoped that his visit and the talks would help to “better understand each other” and would contribute to strengthening ties between the armed forces of the two countries.
"As terrorist activities in the world have been increasing, the international community needs to stay united in the struggle against this evil," Russia's Defense Minister said.