At the start of a two-day visit to Israel, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke in a joint statement with Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz on April 11.
LLOYD AUSTIN: It is indeed a privilege to be here in Tel Aviv on my very first visit to Israel as a Secretary of Defense, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to meet with the minister despite the challenges from Covid-19.
As a major strategic partner for the United States, our bilateral relationship with Israel, in particular, is central to regional stability and security in the Middle East. During our meeting, I reaffirmed to Minister Gantz our commitment to Israel is enduring and it is ironclad. And I pledge to continue close consultations in order to ensure Israel's qualitative military edge and to strengthen Israel's security.
We both agree that we must work closely together to enhance US-Israel Defense Corporation and to advance shared security interests and priorities. And I appreciate-- appreciated hearing Minister Gantz's perspectives about the challenges in this region. And I look forward to reciprocating his hospitality when you're able to visit the Pentagon, and I hope that's one day soon.
BENNY GANTZ: Hopefully.
LLOYD AUSTIN: Mr. Minister, our dialogue today gives me great confidence in our already strong and enduring security partnership. This is a relationship built on trust, which has developed over decades of cooperation. And I look forward to building upon that trust in the years ahead.