(photo credit: Associated Press)
In a sign of the improving ties between the United States and Israel, Chairman
of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen will pay a short visit to Israel
Sunday on his way back to the US from meetings in Afghanistan and
RELATED:Ashkenazi headed to US, expected to face protests
Mullen will meet with Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi
Ashkenazi, whom he has met 14 times since both took up their posts in 2007, and
will then have lunch with additional IDF generals, including OC Military
Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin, OC Navy Maj.-Gen. Eli Marom and Deputy Chief
of General Staff Maj.-Gen. Benny Gantz.
Sunday’s trip will be Mullen’s
fourth visit to Israel. Before his first visit in 2007, a chairman of
chiefs had not visited Israel in a decade.
Officials said that the two
military chiefs would focus on Iran’s nuclear program in their
well as the situation in Syria and Lebanon.
The Israeli-Turkish rift will
also be raised.
On Saturday, Philip Gordon, the Obama administration’s
top diplomat on European affairs, said that Turkey was alienating US
and needed to demonstrate its commitment to partnership with the
“The relationship between Ashkenazi and Mullen is of strategic
importance for Israel,” a senior defense official said Saturday.
related news, IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Avi Benayahu returned last week
London, where he lectured on Israel’s security situation.
considered canceling the trip due to the possibility that as the IDF’s
he could be arrested and tried for war crimes.
“This was particularly a
concern following the flotilla incident three weeks ago,” an IDF source
Following consultations between the IDF Military Advocate General’s
Office and the Foreign Ministry, Benayahu was given approval to travel
British capital, albeit with security.
All of his hotel reservations were
made under a false identity.
During his visit, Benayahu said that the IDF
was interested in repairing its ties with Turkey, which have
deteriorated over the past 18 months.
He also called on Syria to decide
if it wants to be aligned with Iran and Lebanon or to mend its ties with