Israel's chief of staff on US visit

AFP , Sunday 3 Feb 2013

Israeli military chief of the general staff to meet his US counterpart in Washington to discuss Syria's civil war and Iran's nuclear activities

Israeli armed forces chief Lieutenant General Benny Gantz on Sunday started a five-day visit to Washington, the army said, with the Syrian conflict and Iran's controversial nuclear programme on his agenda.

"During the course of the visit, the chief of the general staff and his (US) counterpart, General (Martin) Dempsey, will conduct a series of work meetings together, as well as meetings with other American officials," the military said.

"They will also discuss current security challenges, the regional security status in the Middle East and military cooperation," it added in a statement.

Gantz's visit comes as Defence Minister Ehud Barak, currently in Munich, implicitly confirmed the Jewish state carried out an air strike on military installations in Syria on Wednesday.

Washington has said Israeli warplanes targeted missiles and a military complex near the Syrian capital to prevent arms transfers to Lebanon's powerful Shiite group Hezbollah.

Israel has also consistently refused to rule out a resort to military action to prevent Iran developing the capability to build a nuclear weapon, although Tehran denies any such ambition.

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