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April 16, 2017 1:32 pm

Defense Secretary James Mattis to Visit Israel During Week-Long Middle East Trip Meant to ‘Reaffirm Key US Military Alliances’

avatar by Barney Breen-Portnoy

US Secretary of Defense James Mattis. Photo: Screenshot.

US Secretary of Defense James Mattis will stop in Israel this coming Friday during a week-long trip to the Middle East.

During his visit — Mattis’ first to the Jewish state since taking over at the Pentagon in January — the retired Marine general will hold meetings with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, according to a US Department of Defense statement.

Mattis has already met with Lieberman twice — first on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference in mid-February and several weeks later at the Pentagon.

While in Israel on Friday, Mattis will also take part in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem.

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Other destinations on Mattis’ itinerary for his trip — his fourth abroad since becoming defense secretary — include Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar and Djibouti.

The purpose of the trip, according to the Department of Defense — is to “reaffirm key US military alliances, engage with strategic partners in the Middle East and Africa, and discuss cooperative efforts to counter destabilizing activities and defeat extremist terror organizations.”

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