Liberman praises Trump for building Mideast 'coalition of moderates'

The conflict in the Middle East stems not from religious division, Israel's defense minister said, but the fight between radicals and moderates.

Avigdor Liberman (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Avigdor Liberman
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
NEW YORK – Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman praised the Trump administration on Thursday for its new, comprehensive policy approach to Iran, outlined in a speech by the president last week.
Liberman, visiting Washington for meetings with his US counterpart, said that Israel “fully supports President Trump regarding Iranian threats and, of course, we think that it’s something very, very urgent and necessary.”
Before Liberman’s trip, Israeli officials said that his discussions with Defense Secretary James Mattis were likely to focus on Iran – touching on its nuclear program, its aiding of Hezbollah and its support for Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria.
Speaking at an honor cordon at the Pentagon, Liberman praised the US administration for its broader approach to the region, where Donald Trump hopes to capitalize on aligning Arab-Israeli interests.
The contemporary Middle East divide is “not between Jews and Muslims or Christians,” Liberman said. “It’s not between Shi’ite or Sunni, between different religions – but between moderate and radical people.
“We’re also happy to see and we completely support your efforts to establish a coalition of moderate people,” he continued.
Welcoming Liberman to the Pentagon, Mattis told Liberman they were singing from the “same sheet of music.”
“We appreciate those in the region who choose instead to promote stability,” Mattis said. “I think it’s critical today – probably more critical than ever – that we foster an integrated response to those threats, reinforcing our already robust collaboration on key security issues.”