Panetta heads to Mideast; Syria high on the agenda
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is heading to Tunisia and Egypt to consult with their new leaders about transitioning to democracy and exploring new footing for military partnerships with the U.S.
On his five-day Middle East trip, Panetta also is scheduled to visit two of the U.S.'s closest allies in the region, Israel and Jordan, to discuss the revolt in Syria and developments in Iran.
He'll be in Jerusalem just days after a visit by U.S. Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, who's been highly critical of President Barack Obama's approach to Israel.
Panetta is expected to highlight U.S. cooperation with Israel on building more effective missile defenses, including the Iron Dome system that is designed to shoot down short-range rockets and artillery shells.
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