United States Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin hailed investment opportunities in Israel and vowed Washington would increase its participation in infrastructure projects there, as he embarked on a Middle East tour on Sunday, The Algemeiner reported.
“We have a very important relationship with Israel. This is really a great place for investments, particularly technology investments,” Mnuchin told reporters in Jerusalem. “We are going to make sure we do more infrastructure investments here,” he added in a press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
In their closed-door meeting, the two agreed to “ramping up the pressure” against Iran. “We have seen in recent years that pressure is the only thing that arrests the forward movement of the Iranian nuclear program and pressure is the only thing that rolls back Iran’s aggression in the region,” Netanyahu told Mnuchin, as he welcomed the Treasury Secretary on his second official visit to Israel.
Netanyahu also praised the strong Israel-U.S. partnership in a range of fields, including in their “common approach to preventing aggression” in the Middle East, notably joint efforts to confront and contain Tehran’s hegemonic ambitions in the region including in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.
“This is the first stop on my trip to the Middle East this week,” Mnuchin said ahead of the meeting. “I will be going to six countries and this is my first stop because we have no better partner than Israel in our fight against terrorism and combating terrorist financing.”
Ahead of sanctions that the U.S. is poised to impose on Iran’s energy sector in early November, the Treasury Secretary added, “This is a very important part of exiting the JCPOA [the nuclear deal with Iran] and our plan to make sure that there are never nuclear weapons in Iran. Not now, not in ten years, never.”
The U.S.-Israeli economic and commercial relationship now spans IT, bio-tech, life sciences, health care solutions, energy, pharmaceuticals, food and beverage, defense industries, cyber-security, and aviation, to name just a few sectors. The Jewish State is home to more than 2,500 U.S. firms employing some 72,000 Israelis.
The U.S. and Israel have strong and growing partnerships, particularly in the high-tech sector. Leading U.S. high-tech firms – including Google, Amazon, Microsoft and IBM – all have research and development centers in the Jewish State. Intel Corp, the U.S. chip maker, in May submitted plans to expand its production operations in Israel worth about $5 billion. Intel’s exports from Israel amounted to $3.6 billion in 2017.