MNUCHIN PRAISES ISRAEL DURING MIDEAST TRIP AIMED AT COMBATING TERROR FINANCING

 

The US has no better partner in the region than Israel, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Thursday, before his meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.

This is Mnuchin’s first visit here since becoming secretary in February, and is part of a Middle East trip the Treasury said was focused on combating terrorist financing.

According to the Treasury, Mnuchin’s visit is a follow-up to President Donald Trump’s Mideast trip in May, where – during a visit to Saudi Arabia – he announced the establishment of the Terrorist Financing Target Center. Trump has said that one of his top priorities is to go after the finances of terrorist networks.

Mnuchin arrived from Saudi Arabia, where the US and the other members of the center – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar – imposed sanctions on 13 people affiliated with Islamic State and al-Qaida in Yemen and the Arabian Peninsula in an effort to disrupt terrorist financing.

Netanyahu thanked Mnuchin for the strong action the Treasury Department has taken against Iran, especially the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah. The US slapped sanctions on the two groups two weeks ago, when Trump did not recertify the Iranian nuclear deal. Mnuchin said at the time that the Guards “played a central role to Iran becoming the world’s foremost state sponsor of terror.”

Netanyahu, before the meeting, told Mnuchin he wanted to express his appreciation to the US and the Trump administration for their support, “not only in terms of our security, which is critical for our future, but also in economic terms and the way we cooperate.”

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He said the cooperation was “not only in the government-to-government level, but between Israel’s robust private sector and the great private sector of the United States – it is fundamental to our economic well-being. I deeply appreciate it.”

Following his meeting with Netanyahu, Mnuchin went to Yad Vashem. On Friday he is scheduled to take part in a business roundtable, and meet with Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon to discuss terrorist financing.

He will travel from Israel on Saturday to the United Arab Emirates for meetings there, and then to Qatar before flying home.

 

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