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February 17, 2017 12:49 pm

Israeli Defense Minister After First Meeting With New US Counterpart: The Three Main Problems We Must Handle Are Iran, Iran and Iran

avatar by Barney Breen-Portnoy

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US Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman. Photo: Ariel Hermoni / Israeli Defense Ministry via Twitter.

US Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman. Photo: Ariel Hermoni / Israeli Defense Ministry via Twitter.

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman met for the first time on Friday with new US Secretary of Defense James Mattis on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference in Germany.

According to Israeli media outlets, the two discussed the threats posed by Iran, as well as other Middle East security issues.

“The three main problems we must handle are Iran, Iran and Iran,” Lieberman stated after the meeting with Mattis. “We must build a genuine and effective coalition to deal with the terrorism it [Iran] spreads around the world, the development of missiles it is engaged in and its nuclear arms race.”

Lieberman and Mattis, the media reports said, intend to “maintain open dialogue and cooperation to strengthen Israel’s security and protect America’s interests in the region, as true allies.”

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Furthermore, the two agreed to meet again soon.

On Sunday, Lieberman will take part in an event at the Munich gathering titled “Old Crises, New Middle East?” Other listed participants include Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. It is unknown whether the officials will share the same stage at the same time — an unlikely scenario given the animosities that exist between the countries the four represent, most notably Iran and Israel.

The Mattis-Lieberman meeting took place just two days after President Donald Trump hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House.

A White House-published joint readout of the talks between Trump and Netanyahu said, “The president and prime Minister agreed on the need to counter the threats posed by Iran and its proxies, in addition to countering the so-called ‘Islamic State’ and other radical Islamic terrorist groups, so as to create a more secure Middle East to the benefit of all countries. The two leaders agreed that the Iran nuclear deal is a terrible deal for the United States, Israel, and the world. The president assured the prime Minister that Iran must not, and will not, obtain nuclear weapons capability. The two leaders also discussed the crisis in Syria and other regional issues.”

“The United States and Israel stand together facing a range of challenges, and the two leaders pledged to deepen cooperation to bring greater peace and stability to the Middle East and to protect the United States, Israel, and other nations from the global threat of terrorism,” the White House statement went on to say.

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