Defense Secretary Hagel to travel to Israel

WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says he will be traveling to Israel in a few days, his first trip to the Mideast ally since he took over at the Pentagon.

Hagel mentioned the trip during congressional testimony on Tuesday as lawmakers pressed him on whether the United States would support Israel if it launches a strike against Iran. Hagel told a House panel that such a policy decision would be made by President Barack Obama.

Israel fears that Iran is close to producing a nuclear weapon. Tehran insists that the program is for peaceful purposes.

During his contentious confirmation hearing, Hagel faced tough questions on whether he was sufficiently supportive of Israel. He insisted that he was despite previous statements and votes while he served in the Senate.

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