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April 9, 2013 7:49 am

Hagel to Visit Israel Later This Month

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U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. Photo: Wikipedia.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is set to visit Israel later this month for the first time since taking office, Army Radio reported.

Hagel, who was confirmed in a historically close 58-41 vote by the Senate and during the confirmation process came under fire for both his record and statements on Israel, will reportedly arrive in Israel on April 21.

Hagel discussed the planned visit with his Israeli counterpart, Defense Minister Moshe (Bogie) Ya’alon, during a recent telephone call.

The nuclear program of Iran is expected to be the focus of the talks Hagel will hold with Israeli officials during his visit. In his confirmation hearing before the Senate on Jan. 31, Hagel mistakenly expressed support for a U.S. policy of “containment” in dealing with the Iranian nuclear threat.

There has been a recent flurry of visits to Israel by top U.S. government officials. Barack Obama made his first visit as president to Israel in March, and was accompanied by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who returned to Israel on Sunday for another visit and is trying to restart the stalled Israel-Palestinian peace process.

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