BRASILIA - U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday that the decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria does not affect American commitments to Israel as he met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Brazil.
Washington's "commitment to Middle East stability and the protection of Israel continues in the same way it did before that decision was made" and the adminstration will continue to try to counter Iranian aggression, Pompeo said.
Pompeo also praised Israel’s operation to neutralize tunnels built by Hezbollah crossing the Israel-Lebanon border, saying: “You all have done good work in Operation Northern Shield. We understand the threat that that violation of Israeli sovereignty presents to the region and to the country, that threat from Iranian Hezbollah, and we’ll work closely together to make sure that we get this right.”
Netanyahu and Pompeo discussed "the intense cooperation between Israel and the United States, which will also deal with questions following the decision [to withdraw troops from Syria]," Netanyahu said.
- Trump on Syria Withdrawal: We Give Israel Billions of Dollars, They'll Be OK
- Pro-Israel Groups Turn Their Backs on Trump for the First Time Over Syria Withdrawal
- Netanyahu on U.S. Syria Pullout: Israel Will Expand Military Action Against Iran if Needed
On Monday night, The New York Times reported that U.S. President Donald Trump has agreed to a gradual withdrawal of forces from Syria following pressure from military officials and politicians to reconsider the rapid pullout he announced in December.
The report came after a senior diplomatic source told reporters accompanying Netanyahu in Brazil that Netanyahu was told in advance of the plan to withdraw U.S. troops and that he had urged Washington to make the withdrawal gradual.