Israel's defence minister visits US

Jerusalem: Israel's recently appointed Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Sunday started an official visit to the US, his first overseas trip in his new post. Lieberman, who joined Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government last month as the latter set out to increase his ruling coalition's majority in the Israeli parliament, will have introductory meetings during his visit, Xinhua cited a statement from his office as saying. The minister, known for his hawkish views and militant statements, will meet US Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter during his visit. Lieberman will also meet members of the US Senate Committees and take part in the inauguration of the F-35 fighter jets at the Lockheed Martin's factory in Texas. The visit takes place amid ongoing negotiations between the US and Israel regarding a 10-year aid package, estimated to be worth around $30 billion. An Israeli defence official said there were still gaps between the two sides.