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April 20, 2017 1:18 pm

US Defense Secretary Mattis Will Stop in Israel on Friday as Part of Week-Long Regional Tour

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Secretary of Defense James Mattis. Photo: Monica King / US Department of Defense. – US Secretary of Defense James Mattis will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Friday.

Mattis’s first visit to the Jewish state in his capacity as defense secretary comes after his visits to Saudi Arabia and Egypt during a week-long tour of the Middle East.

The stated purpose of Mattis’s tour 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,” the US Department of Defense said.

During his visit, Mattis will also meet with President Reuven Rivlin and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, the latter whom Mattis has already met on two prior occasions this year.

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In March, Lieberman called his American counterpart a true friend who was committed to Israel’s security, and told Mattis the US was essential to the process of removing “obstacles to stability in the Middle East.”

While in Israel on Friday, Mattis will take part in a wreath-laying ceremony in Jerusalem at Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust remembrance center.

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