U.S., Israel move closer to joint defense pact as counter to Iran, rising regional threats

The United States and Israel are inching closer to signing a formal mutual defense pact as Iranian power and influence rises throughout the Middle East amid a dwindling U.S. presence.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the announcement Thursday following a scheduled meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Lisbon, Portugal.

“The meeting with Pompeo was critical for Israeli security,” Netanyahu said. “We agreed to promote a defense pact.”

Though the embattled prime minister is receiving some pushback from political opponents, Netanyahu said he believes the Israel Defense Forces and Israeli Security Forces will back the agreement.

“We will do it with full cooperation with the IDF and security forces and ensure total freedom of action for the US and the IDF,” Netanyahu said.

In terms of Iran, Netanyahu said on Twitter, “They’re trying to have staging grounds against us and the region from Iran itself, from Iraq, from Syria, from Lebanon, Gaza, and Yemen and we are actively engaged in countering that aggression.

“The Israeli-American policy is key to that effort, that serves the purposes of many, many countries in the region. That will be the first subject that I will raise, including the ability to strengthen even further our mutual defense,” he added.

Both men also discussed a shared interest in pressuring the Iranian regime. Moreover, Pompeo reaffirmed the Trump administration’s support for “Israel’s security.”

“ and I had another productive meeting this evening in Lisbon. We discussed efforts to counter Iran’s destabilizing influence in the region, the importance of economic cooperation with regional partners and other issues related to Israel’s security,” Pompeo wrote on Twitter.

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