U.S.-Israeli Defense Relationship Never Stronger, Gates Says

TEL AVIV, March 24, 2011 — Not­ing that their mil­i­tary rela­tion­ship has nev­er been stronger, Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates said here today that the Unit­ed States and Israel should stand togeth­er “as we con­tem­plate and work with the extra­or­di­nary change that is tak­ing place around the region.”

Before a meet­ing with Israeli Pres­i­dent Shi­mon Peres, Gates said the unprece­dent­ed num­ber of cit­i­zen upris­ings in diverse coun­tries brings with it chal­lenges and oppor­tu­ni­ties. “The key,” he added, “is to min­i­mize the chal­lenges and max­i­mize the oppor­tu­ni­ties.”

Peres echoed the secretary’s com­ments. “We are aware there is a win­dow of change in the Mid­dle East,” he said, “and we, very much like you, stand on the side of … free­dom, democ­ra­cy, secu­ri­ty and peace.”

While Israel is con­cerned about the dai­ly prob­lem of defense, Peres said, “we’re not over­look­ing this his­toric con­fronta­tion.”

Gates expressed Amer­i­can sym­pa­thy “for the fam­i­lies of those who were killed and wound­ed in the ter­ror­ist attack in Jerusalem yes­ter­day, and our deep con­cern about the rock­et attacks com­ing out of Gaza against the peo­ple of Israel.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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