State Department confirms Pompeo-Netanyahu meeting

US Secretary of State will meet next week with PM Netanyahu in Brazil, where both will attend inauguration of Jair Bolsonaro.

Elad Benari ,

Pompeo and Netanyahu
Pompeo and Netanyahu
Haim Zach/GPO

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will meet next week in Brazil with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu as Washington prepares to withdraw troops from Syria, the State Department said Thursday, according to AFP.

Pompeo and Netanyahu will meet in Brasilia where both will be attending the New Year's Day inauguration of president-elect Jair Bolsonaro.

Netanyahu has met frequently with Pompeo and enjoys a warm relationship with President Donald Trump, happy about his withdrawal from a denuclearization deal with Iran and his landmark shift of the US embassy to Jerusalem.

Netanyahu and Pompeo most recently met earlier this month in Brussels. Their meeting lasted more than four hours and the Secretary of State stressed the US commitment to Israel’s security.

The discussion focused on the various threats emanating from Iran and which have implication on Israel, including the missile precision factories in Lebanon and the Iranian satellites on the Syrian border. The two also discussed the US proposal to condemn Hamas, which was brought for a vote at the UN several days after the meeting.

The upcoming meeting will be the first between the two since Trump's sudden announcement last week that he will bring home all 2,000 American troops from war-ravaged Syria.

Trump has explained his decision by saying that the Islamic State (ISIS) has been defeated and therefore the US presence in Syria is no longer necessary.

On Wednesday, Trump was asked by reporters how the withdrawal from Syria would affect Israel and replied that "we give Israel $4.5 billion" security every year, and so "Israel will be very good" even after the US withdrawal from Syria.

"I spoke with Bibi. I told Bibi, you know we give Israel 4.5 billion dollars a year. And they are doing very well at defending themselves," the President said on the way back from his surprise trip to American troops stationed in Iraq.

He added that "I’m the one that moved the embassy to Jerusalem. I was the one who was willing to do that. So that’s the way it is - we are going to take great care of Israel. Israel is going to be good. We give Israel 4.5 billion a year. And we give frankly a lot more than that if you look at the books. They’ve been doing a good job.”

Netanyahu made clear earlier this week that the US decision to withdraw 2,000 troops from Syria “will not change our consistent policy: We will continue to act against Iran's attempts to entrench itself militarily in Syria, and to the extent necessary, we will even expand our actions there.”