Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta met with Israeli President Shimon Peres June 11 at the Pentagon to discuss security issues of mutual concern and the nations’ strong defense relationship, Press Secretary George Little said.
The leaders “consulted on … many areas of cooperation and the common challenges faced by the United States and Israel in the Middle East,” Little added, “to include the ongoing violence in Syria, Iran’s nuclear ambitions, the Middle East peace process, and the U.S. commitment to preserving Israel’s qualitative military edge.”
Panetta welcomed Peres to the Pentagon and congratulated him on being nominated for the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama, the highest honor awarded to civilians in the United States
“It is a fitting recognition of your life’s work, [which] has been to advance peace, human dignity and freedom. These basic values are at the core of the U.S.-Israel relationship,” Panetta told Peres. “We greatly admire your commitment to these values and we greatly admire your commitment to our relationship.”
The secretary noted that cooperation between the U.S. and Israeli militaries is stronger than ever and that the U.S. commitment to Israel’s security is “rock solid and enduring.”
Panetta added that he looked forward to hearing Peres’ “views on the many challenges we face together. But our goal remains the same for both of our nations: peace, prosperity, and the dream of giving our children a better life.”
After a brief handshake in the meeting room and smiles before the cameras, according to a pool report, Panetta and Peres sat down at a table along with 12 senior officials.
Among them, on the U.S. side, was Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.