U.S. Gen. Michael E. Kurilla has met with new Israel Defense Forces leaders in Tel Aviv to discuss ongoing threats in the Middle East. File photo by Leigh Vogel/UPI | License Photo
Jan. 18 (UPI) -- The top U.S. military general for the Middle East, Gen. Michael "Erik" Kurilla, has met with new Israel Defense Forces leaders in Tel Aviv to discuss ongoing threats in the region.
While regional threats from Iran dominated their meetings on Monday and Tuesday, Kurilla and the new IDF chief of general staff, Lt. Gen. Herzl Halevi, also discussed military relations between the United States and Israel, as well as upcoming joint training exercises, U.S. Central Command announced Wednesday.
Kurilla also thanked the outgoing chief of general staff, Aviv Kohavi, for his "leadership and commitment to the CENTCOM-IDF partnership" and for his 40 years of service to Israel, while congratulating him on his retirement.
"Kohavi oversaw the transition of Israel from the U.S. European Command area of responsibility to that of U.S. Central Command. Kohavi quickly established the foundation for a strong, abiding relationship between the IDF and CENTCOM," a statement from CENTCOM read.
During his two days in Tel Aviv, Kurilla met with Israel's new defense minister, Yoav Gallant, to discuss "deepening defense and technological cooperation" between Israeli and U.S. forces.
And Kurilla received briefings and "an overview of integrated air and missile defense" during his visit to Israel Air Force headquarters where he was updated on threats in the region.
Washington, D.C. has been pushing for an integrated military alliance with Israel to deal with Iranian threats, which include unmanned aerial vehicles and bomb-laden drones. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan plans to meet with the new Israeli government when he travels to Tel Aviv on Wednesday.
"The U.S. policy is that Iran cannot get a nuclear weapon, I think any enforceable agreement should make sure that they do not get a nuclear weapon," Kurilla warned in February during his confirmation hearing.
"Iran is the number one destabilizing factor in the Middle East right now with their malign behavior," Kurilla testified before the Senate armed services committee, in Washington, D.C.
"I think going through our partners and allies and strengthening those with a united front with all of our partners and allies is the best way to confront them."