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The Boston Globe

World

In Israel, Chuck Hagel reiterates US plan to deter Iran

Defense chief begins visit to Middle East

JERUSALEM — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel opened a weeklong visit to the Middle East on Sunday by pressing a US agenda focused on deterring Iran — including a significant new weapons deal for Israel — coupled with a strong caution that it would be premature for Israel to opt for unilateral strikes on Tehran’s nuclear program.

Hagel, who was subject to intense, even hostile scrutiny during his confirmation process about whether he was sufficiently supportive of Israel, hailed the ‘‘very special relationship’’ between the United States and Israel. He also repeatedly emphasized Israel’s right to defend itself ‘‘in a very dangerous, combustible region of the world.’’

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