U.S. defense secretary to visit Israel


JERUSALEM (JTA) — U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates will visit Israel next week.

Gates is scheduled to visit Israel on July 27 for talks focusing on Iran’s nuclear ambitions and strategic ties between the United States and Israel, as well as on the issue of West Bank settlements, Reuters reported Sunday, citing officials involved in planning the trip.

A formal announcement of the trip has not yet been made.

It is the second Cabinet-level member of the Obama administration to visit Israel. Gates reportedly will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak during the six-hour visit. He also reportedly will visit Jordan, Reuters reported. 

"This [visit] may be an American attempt to reassure Israel on Iran as part of Washington’s pressure for movement on the Palestinian track," the unnamed official told Reuters.

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