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Pentagon Chief Meets Israeli PM Amid Tensions Over Iran Deal

U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter (left), Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon (center), and Israeli Brigadier General Moni Katz view the Hula Valley from the Hussein Lookout near Kiryat Shmona in northern Israel on July 20.

U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem to try to ease Israeli concerns over a nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.

Under the July 14 accord, sanctions against Iran will be gradually removed in return for Tehran accepting long-term curbs on its nuclear program.

On July 20, Carter said Israel remained "the bedrock of American strategy in the Middle East," signaling that the United States was ready to boost military cooperation with the Jewish state.

Israel warned that it feared the nuclear pact would translate into more money for Hizballah, an Iranian-backed Lebanese militia group, and others hostile to Israel.

Carter's regional tour aimed at reassuring U.S. allies who have concerns over the deal will include stops in Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

Visiting Hussein Lookout, with a sweeping view of Lebanon as well as the Golan Heights in Syria, Carter said on July 20 the United States was concerned about a range of threats facing Israel, including Hizballah, which has more than 100,000 missiles capable of paralyzing Israel's civilian infrastructure.

"Hizballah is sponsored of course by Iran, which is why the United States will continue to help Israel counter Iranian malign influence in the region," Carter said.

Israel next year will become the first U.S. ally to fly the new U.S. F-35 warplane, he said, stressing that he wants to ensure Israel's military continues to have an edge in missile defense and other areas.

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said Iran will be strengthened by the nuclear deal, and that Iranian proxies like Hizballah and the militant Palestinian group Hamas "are going to get more money" as a result.

Based on reporting by AFP, dpa, AP, and Reuters