US commander visiting Israel

Admiral Mike Mullen's visit is meant to reassure key partners of the US military in the region.

    Prime Minister Netanyahu is among the Israeli officials Admiral Mike Mullen will meet [EPA]

    The top US military commander is visiting Israel and Jordan to reaffirm his country's support following the collapse of Hosni Mubarak's presidency in Egypt.

    Joint Chief of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen will meet Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, on Sunday and Shimon Peres, the president.

    He will also hold talks with Israeli military leaders before heading to the Jordanian capital Amman on Monday for meetings with King Abdullah II and his Jordanian counterpart, Lieutenant-General Meshaal Al-Zabn.

    A Pentagon spokesman, Captain John Kirby, said: "He will discuss security issues of mutual concern and reassure both these key partners of the US military's commitment to that partnership."

    The visit comes after Mubarak stepped down on Friday after 30 years, handing over control to the military after more than a million people took to the streets in the culmination of an 18-day uprising in Egypt.

    Egypt is a major US ally in the Middle East and is the second-largest US aid recipient after Israel.

    New Israeli army chief

    Al Jazeera's Cal Perry in Jerusalem said Mullen will arrive to news of the appointment by Israeli cabinet of General Genny Gantz as chief of staff for the Israeli army, replacing Gabi Ashkenazi.

    "He [General Gantz] will be the 20th chief of staff [and will] be faced with a new regional reality and a new relationship between Israel and Egypt," said our correspondent.

    He said he had spoken to an Israel analyst who said that the peace treaty signed by Israel and Egypt in 1979 is a "priority" for the new army chief.

    A statement from the Israeli army said Mullen, who is visiting Israel for the fifth time and is accompanied by his wife, will meet the outgoing chief of staff as well as his successor.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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