Photo Credit: Ariel Hermoni (MOD)
Defense Minister Gantz departing from the destroyer USS Cole in Bahrain, Feb. 3, 2022.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Thursday launched his official visit to the Kingdom of Bahrain with a meeting at the US Fifth Fleet headquarters, where he told his hosts that “deepening cooperation will enable us to maintain regional stability and to defend the common interests of Israel, the United States, and Bahrain.”

The Israeli minister was hosted by US Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT), US 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) Commander Vice Admiral Brad Cooper, and Bahraini Minister of Defense Affairs LTG. Abdullah Bin Hassan Al Nuaimi.

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Minister Gantz was joined by Commander of the Israeli Navy, Vice Admiral David Saar Salama.

Gantz et al came to the NAVCENT headquarters for a discussion on challenges of mutual interest, as well as opportunities for regional maritime security cooperation, with a particular emphasis on Israel’s recent repositioning to United States Central Command (CENTCOM). Following the meeting, the Israeli delegation toured the guided-missile destroyer USS Cole, an Arleigh Burke-class Aegis-equipped guided-missile destroyer home-ported in Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia.

The parties reaffirmed the importance of military cooperation between the US and Israel, as well as the unique bond between their defense establishments, nations, and leaders.

Defense Minister Gantz said: “I have now completed an important visit to the Fifth Fleet HQ. In the past year, thanks in part to the Abraham Accords and Israel’s move to CENTCOM, cooperation between the IDF and the Fifth Fleet has expanded. This strategic cooperation is critical in facing developing challenges in the region.”

“The bond between Israel and the US is one based on common interests, and perhaps even more importantly on shared values,” Gantz said. “Our military cooperation is reflective of such. Having served as defense attach? to Washington and as the IDF’s Chief of Staff, I understand the meaning and weight of our strategic partnership. We will continue working together so that this region may prosper and enjoy peace, stability, and security.”

Vice Admiral Cooper said: “This visit highlights the importance of the US 5th Fleet’s decades-long strategic relationship with Bahrain and expanding partnership with Israel following the recent alignment of Israel to U.S. Central Command. We are always at our best when we work together with our international partners.”

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