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Defense chiefs Hagel and Yaalon to meet in Israel

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WASHINGTON (JTA) — U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will travel to Israel this month for a meeting with Moshe Yaalon, his Israeli counterpart.

Reuters on Tuesday quoted an unnamed Israeli defense official as naming April 21-23 as the dates for Hagel’s Israel visit, and a Pentagon official confirmed to JTA that Hagel planned to travel to Israel "later this month."

It will be Hagel’s first trip to Israel since he assumed office in February after a bruising Senate confirmation battle in which senators besieged him with questions about his past comments critical of Israel, as well as his skepticism on the efficacy of a strike to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

Israeli officials have since said they are familiar with Hagel from his days as a Republican U.S. senator from Nebraska and look forward to working with him.  

Hagel’s visit comes in the wake of another round of inconclusive talks between Iran and the major world powers on Iran’s nuclear program.

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