U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant met on June 15 in Brussels “to discuss opportunities to expand military cooperation to counter regional threats,” per a U.S. Defense Department readout.
The two leaders “discussed important developments in the U.S.-Israeli bilateral defense partnership, U.S. security assistance for Israel and efforts to increase partnership and interoperability,” according to Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, a Pentagon spokesperson.
Gallant and Austin agreed to keep collaborating to address “the wide range of threats posed by Iran, including its nuclear program, destabilizing regional activities and proliferation of uncrewed aerial systems and other lethal assistance throughout the Middle East and to Russia,” the readout stated.
Austin “lauded Israel’s continued integration into the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, and he expressed the department’s intent to strengthen the regional security architecture and to further multilateral cooperation with regional partners,” per the readout. (Dana Stroul, the Pentagon’s top Middle East policymaker, recently told JNS that it was a “brilliant” decision of the Trump administration to transfer Israel to CENTCOM.)
Austin and Gallant also discussed Russia’s aggression in Ukraine with Austin noting “profoundly negative” consequences for Ukraine, and the Middle East, in Russia and Iran cooperating militarily. Both Ukraine and others in the region “are being attacked with Iranian-made uncrewed aerial systems,” per the readout.
The U.S. official also “expressed concern over the deteriorating security situation in the West Bank,” encouraging de-escalation and emphasizing U.S. support for a two-state solution. “Both leaders agreed to remain in close contact,” the Pentagon added.