16:50 GMT17 June 2021
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in a meeting with his Israeli counterpart Benny Gantz called on Israel and the Palestinian Hamas movement to build on the latest ceasefire to ensure lasting security in the region.

    Austin underscored that the Defense Department supports President Joe Biden's goal of a two-state solution.

    "Now going forward, we seek lasting security for Israelis and Palestinians alike. And I want to stress the importance of reducing tensions in the West Bank and Jerusalem and of supporting humanitarian and reconstruction assistance for Gaza that benefits the innocent people who live there," Austin said during the opening remarks of the meeting at the Pentagon on Thursday.

    Gantz agreed that diplomatic work is important in order to prevent or delay another military conflict with Hamas.

    In addition, Gantz emphasized that Iran is the main concern in the Middle East as it continues to develop nuclear weapons and backs militia activities throughout the region.

    Austin said the Biden administration is committed to maintaining Israel's qualitative military edge in the region and will ensure it can defense itself against threats in the region, especially those from Iran.

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    Tags:
    Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Hamas, Lloyd Austin, Benny Gantz
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