American-Israeli strategic talks resume after China hubbub

The periodic meeting of the US-Israeli strategic cooperation forum, the Joint Political Military Group (JPMG), convenes in Tel Aviv Wednesday, for the first time since the two countries resolved their crisis in defense relations over arms sales to China. The two-day, intensive sessions are expected to focus on strategic regional and global issues, as well as bilateral topics, security officials said. Iran's effort to acquire nuclear weapons and the future of Syria are likely topics, they said. The talks will take place in Tel Aviv and will be co-chaired by Defense Ministry director-general Jacob Toren and US Assistant Secretary of State for Political Military Affairs John Hillen. IDF brass and senior defense officials are expected to attend. The JPMG was established 23 years ago. Two years ago Washington suspended cooperation as a pressure tactic on Israel over arms deals to China. It ended with the resignation of Defense Ministry director-general Amos Yaron. Holding the meeting manifests the resolution of the crisis in security ties between the two countries. The JPMG and the Defense Program Advisory Group are institutionalized channels for consultations between Israel and the US on issues such as Iran, Syria and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Meanwhile, Lt.-Gen. Jeffrey Kohler is visiting the Defense Ministry for a first-hand look at Israeli defense projects.