Lloyd Austin
Lloyd AustinReuters

The Pentagon confirmed on Thursday that Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin will visit Israel as part of an overseas trip which begins on Saturday.

Austin will also meet with government and military leaders in Germany, NATO Headquarters in Belgium, and the United Kingdom, during the visit.

“Secretary Austin will meet with his counterparts and other senior officials to discuss the importance of international defense relationships, and reinforce the United States’ commitment to deterrence and defense, burden sharing, and enduring trans-Atlantic security,” said the Pentagon statement.

“In Israel, Secretary Austin will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benjamin Gantz, to continue close consultations on shared priorities, and reaffirm the enduring U.S. commitment to the U.S.-Israel strategic partnership and Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge,” the statement noted.

Earlier this week, Axios reported that Austin is expected to travel to Israel next week and that the agenda will include Iran and other regional issues like Syria and Lebanon.

According to the report, Israeli officials also intend to raise US-Israel security understandings, reached in the final weeks of the Trump administration, on maintaining Israel's qualitative military edge in the region. Israel wants to ensure the Biden administration is committed to those understandings.

Austin’s visit comes as the US seeks to return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Iran has gradually scaled back its compliance with the deal in response to former US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement in May of 2018.

Biden has expressed a desire to return to the deal but has stressed that Iran must resume compliance with it before any negotiations on a US return to the agreement.

On Monday, the United States said it is ready to review key sanctions on Iran if it comes into compliance with the deal.