U.S. Defense Secretary visits Israel

Ehud Barak: Leon Panetta has contributed greatly to the special U.S.-Israel relationship

Date: 03/10/2011, 3:51 PM     Author: IDF (Zahal) Website

Defense Minister Ehud Barak met on Monday (October 3) with U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta at the Kirya in Tel Aviv.

This marked Panetta’s first visit to Israel as the head of the U.S. Department of Defense. Panetta was previously the director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Panetta was greeted at the Kirya with an honor guard ceremony, attended by Chief of the General Staff, Lieutenant General Benny Gantz.

After holding a work meeting, Barak and Panetta conducted a joint press conference at Barak’s office.

“We are happy to welcome the U.S. defense secretary, Leon Panetta, who is an old friend of mine and of Israel,” Barak said. “In his previous role as head of the CIA, and in his current role as defense secretary, Leon has greatly contributed to strengthening the special relationship between Israel and the U.S. and maintaining Israel’s military superiority.”

Barak said that he had thanked Panetta for his support of Israel’s security and noted that “we are in a global struggle against terrorism, fought both along our borders and far away. The Americans successfully carry a major part of this burden, both in the region and in the world, and we praise them for this.”

Barak said that the U.S. is a key anchor for progress in the Middle East and that the U.S. is Israel’s best friend, even when the two countries disagree on certain matters.

“We hope and believe that the special relationship is based on the depth of our shared values with the American people,” Barak said.

Barak also noted U.S. President Barack Obama’s recent statements of “true and unqualified support for Israel”.