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News Link • Obama Administration

US seeks extra $70m for Israel defence shield

• http://www.aljazeera.com
 

The US plans to give Israel the extra $70m that it asked for this year for its short-range missile defence programme known as the "Iron Dome," Leon Panetta, the US defence secretary has said.

Panetta on Thursday said his department would seek additional funding for the programme over the next three years "based on an annual assessment of Israeli security requirements".

He said Barack Obama, the US president, had directed him to fill Israel's request for the extra money for the system, which is designed to intercept short-range rockets and mortars.

Panetta's statement came after a meeting with his Israeli counterpart Ehud Barak at the Pentagon on Thursday.

The US has already provided $205m for the system and annually gives Israel roughly another $3.1bn in overall security assistance, the most for any foreign country.

However, top Republicans have criticised Obama for what they described as inadequate funding of US-Israeli missile defence co-operation in his 2013 budget request, released in February amid deficit-reduction requirements.

Obama's fiscal 2013 budget request calls for $30bn in funding for Israel over a 10-year peried, none of which was scheduled to fund Iron Dome.

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