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Israeli, US defense chiefs meet on sidelines of NATO meeting

Banned by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from traveling to Washington, Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant met in Brussels with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.
Israeli Minister of Defence Yoav Gallant (R) and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin shake hands after delivering a statement to the press at the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) headquarters near the Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv, on March 9, 2023.

PARIS — Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin met Thursday in Brussels, on the margins of the NATO defense ministers’ meeting, to discuss Iran, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu banned Gallant from traveling to Washington for such a meeting.

Before departing for Belgium, Gallant said that he expects to discuss with Austin "the implementation of the joint commitment of both our countries to make sure Iran will never possess nuclear military capabilities."

Before his meeting with Austin, Gallant met with European Union Neighborhood and Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi and with leaders of the Belgium Jewish community. 

The Brussels meeting took place on the backdrop of reports on Walla news outlet that the United States was engaged in indirect talks with Iran, mediated by Omani officials, in order to reach an informal nuclear deal with Iran, possibly defined as “a mini agreement” or “an understanding” instead of “an agreement.” The Jerusalem Post quoted on Tuesday Netanyahu telling the Knesset Foreign Affairs Committee that the Biden administration is determined to reach such a deal, that it was now awaiting Tehran’s response and that there was little chance it was going to change its mind. 

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