New U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel met with his Israeli counterpart on Tuesday, expressing strong support for Israeli missile and rocket defense systems despite fiscal uncertainty caused by across-the-board spending cuts.
“Secretary 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,” a U.S. defense official said.
Hagel’s nearly two-hour-long talks with Israel’s Ehud Barak represented his first face-to-face meeting with a foreign counterpart since he took over the Pentagon on Feb. 27.
Secretary Hagel noted the two have had an outstanding working relationship dating back to Minister Barak’s days as prime minister and he thanked Minister Barak for his kind words at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference. Secretary Hagel expressed his desire to visit Israel soon and Minister Barak stated that Israel looks forward to hosting him in the near future.