Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon speaks with U.S
Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon speaks with U.SFlash 90

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon left on Wednesday for talks with US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, his first visit to Washington since taking office in March, the ministry said.

"During the visit the two men are expected to discuss current security, diplomatic and regional issues," it said, according to the AFP news agency.

It added that he would also meet American politicians, Jewish community leaders and members of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) lobby.

Hagel, who came under a great deal of backlash over his various anti-Israel comments prior to receiving his confirmation in February, visited Israel in April.

Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot has said the focus of the talks would be military and intelligence cooperation on events in Syria and Israel's concerns over the Russian sale to Damascus of advanced S-300 anti-aircraft missiles.

From Washington, Yaalon is to fly on to Paris to inaugurate the Israeli pavilion at the annual air show and for meetings with Prime Minister Laurent Fabius and Defense Minister  Jean-Yves Le Drian.