Thu, 06 May 2021

US Defense Secy begins travel to Middle East

ANI
12 Apr 2021, 02:19 GMT+10

Washington DC [US], April 11 (ANI): The US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin arrived in Israel on Sunday, his first stop on a two-day trip to the Middle Eastern country. This is the first official visit by a senior representative of President Joe Biden's administration to the country.

Israel sees the United States as a "full partner" and will work closely with its ally to ensure any new diplomatic accord with Iran does not compromise regional security, Defence Minister Benny Gantz told his US counterpart on Sunday, as quoted by Al Jazeera.

"The secretary begins his trip in Israel, moves on to Germany, and then goes to Brussels for meetings with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. He'll wrap up his travels in the United Kingdom," the US Department of Defence said in a release.

Israel, Austin will meet with Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He is visiting the week Israel marks Holocaust Remembrance Day, followed by Israeli Independence Day.

Defense Secretary Austin's visit comes just days after talks restarted on reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement. Washington said it offered "very serious" ideas on reviving the hobbled deal that is opposed by Israel, Al Jazeera reported.

The United States is prepared to lift sanctions imposed on Iran to resume mutual compliance with the 2015 nuclear agreement, State Department spokesman Ned Price had said on Wednesday.

"We are prepared to lift sanctions that are inconsistent with the JCPOA [the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action]," Price told reporters during a daily briefing.

The spokesperson had reiterated that there will be no unilateral gestures as the United States favors a "compliance for compliance" formula.

In 2015, Iran signed the JCPOA with the P51 group of countries. The agreement required Iran to scale back its nuclear program and downgrade its uranium reserves in exchange for sanctions relief. In 2018, the US withdrew from the JCPOA and began imposing sanctions on Iran in violation of the nuclear agreement. (ANI)

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