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Obama: US to open talks on extending Israel military aid

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

President Barack Obama said on Wednesday that Israel and the United States were opening talks on extending US military aid beyond 2017, on his first visit to the Jewish state since taking office.

Speaking beside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Obama also made clear that despite a budget crunch in Washington there would be no interruption to funding of Israel's vaunted Iron Dome anti-missile system.

"As part of our long-term commitment to Israel's security, the prime minister and I agreed to begin discussions on extending military assistance to Israel," Obama said.

"Our current agreement lasts through 2017, and we've directed our teams to start working on extending it for the years beyond."

Obama also said that despite budget showdowns between the White House and Republicans in Washington that have led to sharp military spending cuts, there would be no interruption of US funding for the Iron Dome anti-missile system.

"As a result of decisions that I made last year, Israel will receive approximately $200 million this fiscal year, and we will continue to work with Congress on future funding of Iron Dome," Obama said.

These are further reminders that we will help to preserve Israel's qualitative military edge so that Israel can defend itself by itself against any threat.

The last US military aid deal to Israel which started in 2007, saw the Jewish state secure $30 billion over the decade, which was to be spent on US and Israeli military equipment.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130320/obama-us-open-talks-extending-israel-military-aid