Hindustan Times (Jalandhar)



JERUSALEM: US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter met Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday to try and ease tensions over the Iran nuclear deal, as the Israeli leader urged lawmakers in Washington to reject the hardwon agreement.

The two men greeted each other with a long handshake before entering the meeting that lasted nearly two hours, making no comment about the tensions over the nuclear accord that Netanyahu has harshly condemned.

Their meeting came on the final day of Carter’s visit to Israel, the first stop on a regional tour aimed at reassuring US allies in the region who have concerns over the Iran deal.

On Monday, Carter met Israeli defence minister Moshe Yaalon and signalled the United States was ready to boost military cooperatio­n with the Jewish state.

He also toured the country’s northern border with Lebanon for an assessment of the threat Israel says Hezbollah poses.

Iran is accused of supporting militants in the region, including Israeli enemies Hezbollah and Hamas, and Israel argues that the expected lifting of sanctions under the nuclear accord will allow it to boost its help for such groups.

Carter on Monday sought to address Israel’s worries that the nuclear deal with its arch-foe Iran meant Washington was shifting its focus in the region, saying Israel remained ‘the bedrock of American strategy in the Middle East’.

Under the July 14 agreement, Iran has agreed to dismantle much of its nuclear industry in return for an easing and eventual lifting of sanctions.

Netanyahu has argued however that it is not enough to keep the Islamic republic from obtaining nuclear weapons that could be used to target Israel.

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