Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, just back from a Middle East trip, held a press conference with Japan Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto. The two discussed the U.S.-Japan military relationship and concerns over the reliability of Osprey aircraft being deployed in Okinawa.
The U.S. and Japan military discussion focuses on China's growing naval strength in the waters around Japan and ongoing instability in North Korea. The Obama administration is shifting the focus of it's military strategy from Europe and the Middle East to the Pacific, to protect U.S. trade interests in South East Asia.
As the U.S. and Japan grow closer militarily, Defense Minister Morimoto is in Washington to discuss the deployment of 12 Osprey military transport aircraft to Okinawa. Two recent Osprey crashes, in Florida and Morocco, have led to civilian protests and threats by Okinawa's governor to shut down American military bases if there are any incidents with the planes.
After meeting with Mohammed Morsi, Egypt's new president, and Egyptian military leaders, Defense Secretary Panetta told reporters in Cairo that he believed the post-Arab Spring government was committed to democracy and he also minimized Morsi's links to the Islamic extremists -- "He's his own man," Panetta told reporters.
Traveling to Israel, Panetta held a joint press conference with Prime Minister Benjamin Netayahu regarding efforts to stop Iran's nuclear weapon development. While Sec. Panetta stressed the role of diplomacy and sanctions, the Israeli premier expressed skepticism and impatience with the Obama administration's approach.
While in Israel, the Secretary of Defense also inspected Project Iron Dome, the $200 million U.S. anti-missile system designed to protect Israelis against rockets launched from Lebanon and Gaza.