Gen. Dempsey Touts Close US-Israeli Ties

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey is in Israel for a three-day visit.

While political relations between Israel and the United States may be tense, the security relationship between the two allies remains strong.

Dempsy has a close relationship with his Israeli counterpart, IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz.

On Sunday, Dempsy met with Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, himself a former IDF chief of staff, who recently had to mend some fences over his criticism of the Obama administration.

"We very much appreciate the relations between the U.S. and Israel," Ya'alon said. "For us, the United States is a strategic ally, actually our best friend, and the relations are a cornerstone in a way of our national security, Ya'alon said.

"If I could just echo your words about the importance and the depth of this relationship, I sometimes am accused by my wife of seeing more of Benny Gantz than I see of her or at least talking to him more often than I talk to her," Dempsey said, smiling. "But this is a time when we need to remain even closer and you have our commitment to do that."

Dempsey said the two countries would try to formulate a common vision for the years leading up to 2020 and then see how to get there.

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