A file picture of the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey in Washington, DC, March 13, 2014
A file picture of the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey in Washington, DC, March 13, 2014 © Jim Watson - AFP/File
A file picture of the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey in Washington, DC, March 13, 2014
AFP
Last updated: March 29, 2014

US military chief to visit Israel

The chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff is heading to Israel for talks on mutual strategic interests after Israel's defence minister upset Washington with remarks criticising US foreign policy.

"General Martin Dempsey will be departing this weekend for a visit to Israel," an Israeli military statement said.

The focus of discussions with his Israeli counterparts "will be on issues of mutual strategic interest, while continuing to build on this important defence relationship," it said.

"In Israel, the chairman will meet with the Israel Defence Forces as part of the United States' unwavering commitment to Israel's security, and will discuss issues of strategic importance."

The statement gave no details, but Israeli public radio said Dempsey would meet Sunday with Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon, who earlier this month enraged US Secretary of State John Kerry by saying Washington's foreign policy showed weakness in global hotspots.

Kerry called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to complain and Yaalon then phoned US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel.

"There was in my comments no criticism or intention to offend the United States," Yaalon's office quoted him as telling his US counterpart.

"The strategic relations between our countries is of supreme importance as are personal relations at every level. I highly value the relations between Israel and the United States."

But several days after Yaalon's remarks in a speech at Tel Aviv University, US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Washington was still waiting for an apology.

"We are disappointed with the lack of an apology for Defence Minister Yaalon's comments," she said.

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