Iran on top of agenda in Austin’s Middle East visit

US Defense Secretary Austin will visit Egypt, Jordan and Israel as part of his Middle East tour tomorrow.

Speaking to reporters on the Minister’s visit, a senior defense official said Austin would express their commitment to the Middle East and the importance they place on bilateral cooperation.

Expressing that the first topic of his agenda is Iran, the official said:

“You have heard high-level officials talk about the reciprocal return negotiations with Iran to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (OKEP) that are no longer on the table. As the Ministry of Defense, Iran must arm and train its pro-violent proxies, regardless of the negotiations conducted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We are working on threats such as maritime aggression, cyber threats, unidirectional drone strikes and ballistic missile program that threaten our forces in the region and our partners such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which must be financed and financed, produced by non-state actors and proxies.”

The official stated that Secretary Austin will discuss ways to counter the threats posed by Iran with US partners in the region.

Asked by the AA correspondent whether the Minister would also talk about possible military steps to be taken to counter the Iranian nuclear program, the official said that the United States is working daily to counter Iran.

However, the official did not confirm whether the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) report was prepared for a military operation against Tehran after Iran obtained 83.7 percent purity uranium at its Fordo underground nuclear facility.

Asked by an AA correspondent about the allegations that funds were allocated for a possible operation to Iran within the scope of covert activities in the US defense budget, the official said, “I have seen these news, but I will not go into it. However, President Biden’s preferred course of action towards Iran’s nuclear ambitions is diplomacy. Minister Austin’ Its job is to ensure that the Department of Defense offers credible options should the President need other options.” gave the answer.

The American news site The Intercept claimed that the Pentagon had allocated funds for a possible military intervention against Iran within the scope of hidden defense expenditures in its annual defense budget.

Austin to convey to Israel his concerns about violence in the West Bank

Explaining that Austin will also discuss the Russia-Ukraine War, the increasing cooperation between Iran and Russia and China’s influence in the Middle East, the official said that he will also bring up the violence in the occupied West Bank city of Nablus.

Expressing that Austin will reiterate his commitment to Israel’s security during his visit to Israel, the official said, “He will also be very frank with Israeli leaders about their concerns about the cycle of violence in the West Bank, and that Israeli leaders’ calm before the upcoming holidays (Passover and Ramadan holidays) is meaningful. will consult on the steps they can take to re-establish it in some way.” said.

“We are not telling our partners to cut ties with China”

The defense official said that China’s influence in the Middle East will also be on the table during the visits.

“On the issue of China, of course, we do not tell our partners to cut their relations with China. Just as the US has commercial relations with Beijing, so can our partners. We understand this. We want them to continue their diplomatic ties. However, some cooperation in the field of security is in the Middle East,” the official said. We will be honest about what we think poses risks to our partners.” he said.

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