US set to boost military aid to Israel amid fears over Iran diplomacy

The United States is poised to increase its annual military assistance to Israel amid Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s fears over nuclear diplomacy with Iran, according to reports.

With the current $3 billion annual military aid package set to expire in 2017, US and Israeli officials are discussing a new 10-year deal that could be worth up to $45 billion.

A US official said on condition of anonymity that the new agreement could bring US military aid up to $3.7 billion a year.

During a briefing with reporters on Thursday, Netanyahu refused to say how much Israel was requesting from the United States.

However, he said the increased military assistance was not a “quid pro quo” for a possible nuclear deal with Iran, which Israel strongly opposes.

“There is no trade-off requiring I agree to this [nuclear] deal with Iran. The deal is bad and we will continue to oppose it,” Netanyahu said, according to Israeli media.

Alistair Baskey, a White House National Security Council spokesman, acknowledged Thursday that US and Israeli officials were expected to discuss ways in which “long-term security cooperation between the two countries can be further strengthened.”

But, he said “no such detailed discussions at a senior level have occurred recently.”

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