Illustration: iStock
Illustration: iStock

President Donald Trump’s decision to pull American troops out of Syria “in no way changes anything” in terms of US support and protection of Israel, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday.

Pompeo gave the assurance as he met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for talks in Brasilia on the sidelines of the inauguration of Brazil’s new president, Jair Bolsonaro.

“The decision the president made on Syria in no way changes anything that this administration is working on alongside Israel,” Pompeo said.

“The counter-ISIS campaign continues, our efforts to counter Iranian aggression continue, and our commitment to Middle East stability and protection of Israel continues in the same way before that decision was made,” he said.

The fact that the issue was the main topic of conversation between Pompeo and Netanyahu highlighted the sense of unease felt in the international community since Trump’s December 19 decision – announced on Twitter – to withdraw the approximately 2,000 US troops from northeast Syria, where they had been battling IS remnants.

“We have a lot to discuss. We’re going to be discussing our – the intense cooperation between Israel and the United States, which will also deal with the questions following the decision, the American decision, on Syria,” Netanyahu said.

He said the talks would look at “how to intensify even further our intelligence and operational cooperation in Syria and elsewhere to block Iranian aggression in the Middle East.”

A US official accompanying Pompeo said the two men “discussed the unacceptable threat that regional aggression and provocation by Iran and its agents poses to Israeli and regional security.”

Pompeo “reiterated the United States’ commitment to Israel’s security and unconditional right to self-defense.”

– with reporting by Agence France-Presse

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