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Defense chiefs Hagel and Yaalon agree to meet soon

WASHINGTON (JTA) — U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke with Moshe Yaalon, his new Israeli counterpart, and they agreed to meet soon.

Yaalon, a former military chief of staff who was installed recently as defense secretary, said Wednesday that he and Hagel would meet in Israel next month, according to media reports.

Pentagon spokesman George Little confirmed that Yaalon and Hagel spoke by phone Tuesday, but said only that Hagel hoped to meet with Yaalon "both in the Pentagon and in Israel in the near future."

The U.S. and Israel top civilian defense officials are expected to maintain constant communication, particularly now with tensions intensifying over Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons program.

"Both leaders noted the hard work of their predecessors to achieve unprecedented levels of military to military cooperation between the United States and Israel," Little said in his statement. "They vowed to ensure continued close collaboration at all levels, a commitment signaled by President Obama’s trip to Israel."

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