Rift? What Rift? Ehud Barak And Chuck Hagel All Smiles And Brotherly Love At First Meeting [PHOTOS]

on March 06 2013 12:48 PM
Hagel and Barak at the Pentagon
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, left, presents a crystal globe and shares a laugh with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak after a meeting at the Pentagon, March 5, 2013. Department of Defense/Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo

Hagel and Barak embrace at the Pentagon U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, right, embraces Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak as he arrives at the Pentagon, March 5, 2013.  Department of Defense/Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo

Newly minted U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel faced stiff opposition during his confirmation process, mostly due to allegations that he was "hostile to Israel," or at least not enthusiastic enough to be an adequate representative of American interests in the Middle East. (Some critics accused him of outright anti-Semitism.)  Hagel finally managed to garner just enough support in the Senate to get the job, and now is attempting to prove to all the naysayers that no, really, he is pro-Israel. Just look at that “vigorous backslapping” embrace, as CNN’s Barbara Starr tweeted, that he and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak shared yesterday when Hagel hosted Barak at the Pentagon.

Yesterday’s visit was Hagel’s first meeting with a foreign counterpart since taking office, the Department of Defense said. The two discussed the civil war in Syria and the nuclear showdown with Iran over coffee and danishes. “Secretary Hagel expressed his strong commitment to Israel’s security, including maintaining Israel’s qualitative military edge and continued U.S. support for missile and rocket defense systems in spite of fiscal constraints,” the official statement read. Hagel also specifically “reiterated” the U.S. commitment to preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, “with all options on the table,” echoing words Barak himself said on Sunday at the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee annual conference.

Breakfast meeting with Hagel and Barak U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, right center, meets with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, left center, at the Pentagon, March 5, 2013  Department of Defense/Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo

“Secretary Hagel noted the two have had an outstanding working relationship dating back to Minister Barak’s days as prime minister. … Secretary Hagel expressed his desire to visit Israel soon and Minister Barak stated that Israel looks forward to hosting him in the near future," the statement continued.

Barak is due to leave office as soon as a new Israeli government is formed. President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit Israel and several other Middle East countries soon.

 . Soldiers at the Pentagon for Ehud Barak's visit Members of a U.S. military honor guard prepare for U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to host an honor cordon to welcome Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak at the Pentagon, March 5, 2013.  Department of Defense/Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo Israeli flag flying at the Pentagon Members of a U.S. military honor guard parade the Israeli flag to prepare for U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to host an honor cordon to welcome Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak at the Pentagon, March 5, 2013.  Department of Defense/Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo Barak and Hagel arrive at the Pentagon U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, right, escorts Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak through an honor cordon at the Pentagon, March 5, 2013.  Department of Defense/Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo Barak signs the guest book at the Pentagon with Hagel U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, left, watches as Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak signs the guest book at the Pentagon, March 5, 2013.  Department of Defense/Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo Hagel presentes Barak with a gift at the Pentagon U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, left, presents a crystal globe and shares a laugh with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak after a meeting at the Pentagon, March 5, 2013.  Department of Defense/Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo

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