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Panetta in Israel to cement relations, urge peace talks

Israel Materials 3 October 2011 15:23
New US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta met his Israeli counterpart Ehud Barak Monday, at the start of a trip aimed at cementing US security relations and urging Israelis and Palestinians to kick-start the stalled peace process.
Panetta in Israel to cement relations, urge peace talks

New US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta met his Israeli counterpart Ehud Barak Monday, at the start of a trip aimed at cementing US security relations and urging Israelis and Palestinians to kick-start the stalled peace process.

Prior to his arrival in Israel, Panetta, making his first visit in his new post, told reporters traveling with him that the main purpose of his trip was "to try and reaffirm our security relationship with important allies and with important partnerships."

He said he would urge Israel to "participate in the peace process" and would "make the same kind of request" when he met with Palestinian leaders, DPA reported.

He added that it was important to let Israelis know that the US would provide Israel with the security it needed to take risks for peace and negotiate a deal with the Palestinians.

Panetta said the US was also willing to help Israel improve its deteriorating relations with Turkey and Egypt.

The defence secretary is also due to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

Panetta will also visit Egypt and NATO headquarters in Brussels on this international tour.

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