Wednesday, March 6, 2013

US defense chief seeks to reassure Israel on aid

US defense chief seeks to reassure Israel on aid: The Pentagon's new chief held talks with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Tuesday and pledged to ensure US budget cuts have no effect on funding for military assistance to the Jewish state, officials said.
With automatic US budget cuts going into effect over the weekend, Hagel sought to reassure Barak that he would work to prevent disruption to Washington's funding for rocket and missile defense programs for Israel. "Secretary Hagel expressed his strong commitment to Israel's security, including maintaining Israel's qualitative military edge and continued US support for missile and rocket defense systems in spite of fiscal constraints," Pentagon spokesman George Little said in a statement. Hagel "is committed to working with members of Congress to ensure that there is no interruption of funding for Iron Dome, Arrow, and David's Sling rocket and missile defense systems, despite the fiscal uncertainty due to congressional inaction" on the automatic budget cuts and a proposed defense budget, said a defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.