Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Brussels, Belgium on Monday. The head of the Mossad, the head of the National Security Council and the military secretary also attended the meeting.
Netanyahu and Pompeo lit candles for the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah before the meeting began. The two then met in private before being joined by the other officials.
At the beginning of the meeting, Netanyahu said to Pompeo: "I want to thank you for your work and statements about Iranian agression following its recent violation by shooting ballistic missiles. I am looking forward to discussing with you the ways we can work together to block Iranian agression in the region - in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and other places, and to continue the efforts for peace and security for all."
According to the State Department, Pompeo "emphasized the United States' commitment to Israel's security and absolute right to self-defense and to fighting anti-Israeli bias at the United Nations".
Pompeo also "reiterated America’s resolve in confronting the totality of the Iranian regime’s threats through maximum pressure."
Pompeo on Saturday slammed Iran over what he described as Tehran's testing of a medium-range ballistic missile capable of carrying multiple warheads as a violation of the 2015 international agreement on the Iranian nuclear program.
The premier and the U.S. secretary of state were originally supposed to meet on Wednesday, but it was rescheduled due to changes that were made in light of George H.W. Bush's funeral.
Iran responded to Pompeo's allegation by saying that its missile program is defensive and not in breach of UN resolutions. "Iran's missile program is defensive in nature... There is no Security Council resolution prohibiting the missile program and missile tests by Iran," IRNA quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi as saying in response to Pompeo's remarks.
Netanyahu and Pompeo met for the first time in April of this year, days after the latter was sworn in as secretary of state.
The Israeli leader lavished Pompeo with praise, calling him “a true friend of Israel, a true friend of the Jewish people.”
Following the meeting Pompeo said that strong ties with allies like Israel are "critical to our efforts to counter Iran’s destabilizing and malign activity throughout the Middle East, and indeed throughout the world." Pompeo said Washington is also focusing on "non-nuclear threats" posed by the Islamic Republic, such as its missile systems, support for Hezbollah, its fighters in Syria and its assistance to Houthi rebels in Yemen.
Regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Pompeo said "the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem remain subject to negotiations between the parties." He added that Washington remains "committed to achieving a lasting and comprehensive peace that offers a brighter future for both Israel and the Palestinians."
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