Avigdor Liberman has first meeting as Israel’s defense minister with U.S. counterpart

WASHINGTON (JTA) – Israel’s newly installed defense minister, Avigdor Liberman, met Monday with his U.S. counterpart, Ashton Carter.

Liberman, who last month replaced defense minister Moshe Ya’alon, is in Washington, D.C., seeking to reassure Israel’s closet ally that the transition will be smooth.

“Secretary Carter and Minister Liberman reaffirmed the strength of the U.S.-Israeli defense relationship and the United States’ unwavering commitment to Israel’s security,” the Pentagon said in a statement after the meeting.

Ya’alon, a former military chief of staff, had good relationships with his U.S. counterparts, while Liberman is known stateside mainly for his incendiary remarks, particularly regarding Arabs.

The Pentagon statement said Liberman would travel to Fort Worth, Texas, to see the rollout of the first F-35, or joint strike fighter, meant for use in Israel. The F-35 is believed to be the most advanced combat jet in use.

“Israel will be the first foreign partner to receive the F-35, which will play a key role in maintaining Israel’s qualitative military edge in the Middle East,” the statement said.

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