TEL AVIV — US Marine Corps Gens. Joseph Dunford and Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove held high-level talks in Israel on Thursday, meeting with Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon and senior security officials on plans to further strategic cooperation in the face of chronic regional instability.
Among topics of discussion, sources in Israel said, were ways in which both countries are coordinating deconfliction protocols with Russian forces waging war beyond Israel's northern border on behalf of Syrian President Bashar Assad; the role of Turkey in the region; and Israel's requirements as it works to conclude a new 10-year military aid package with Washington.
Security talks held in Israel will be followed by a visit next week by US Vice President Joe Biden, hosted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
In his second visit here in less than five months, Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of sStaff, said he is committed to strengthening military-to-military ties, which he recognizes is just one aspect of the ties that bind the two nations.
Turning to Breedlove, commander of US European Command (EUCOM), which is responsible for Israel, Dunford noted that EUCOM works daily to hone strategic cooperation with its Israeli partners.
"Gen. Breedlove works it every day; and I'm committed to building on his efforts," Dunford told Ya'alon.
Earlier in the day, the two generals visited US and Israeli military personnel participating in the closing session of the joint Juniper Cobra air defense exercise, followed by professional talks hosted by Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkott, Israel Defense Forces chief of staff.
During a high-level working meeting Thursday afternoon, Ya'alon told American officials he welcomed the opportunity to discuss cooperative ways of addressing myriad regional challenges.
"Looking around at the Mideast together, with instability in the region, we see many challenges ahead of us. I'm glad for another opportunity to discuss the developing situation," Ya'alon said.
To which Dunford replied: "We do have a lot of issues. And the thing that gives me confidence that we can deal with these challenges is the fact that we're partners and allies."