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Agence France Presse

Joint US-Israeli Military Exercises Begin

Agence France Presse staff

JERUSALEM -- American and Israeli air forces Sunday began week-long joint exercises in southern Israel, simulating dog-fights and bombing targets on the ground, the army said.

Dozens of aircraft are taking part in the exercises in the southern Negev desert, it said.

Army radio said the exercises were taking place in the context of recent discussions between Israel and its main ally on the controversial nuclear program of the Jewish state's arch-foe Iran.

But an Israeli military source said that the exercises were "planned two years ago and are not linked to the situation in any country."

The US, Israel, and many Western countries fear that Iran's nuclear program is a guise for developing atomic weapons. Tehran says it is meant for civilian uses only.

Israel, widely believed to be the sole, if undeclared, nuclear power in the Middle East, considers the Islamic republic its arch-foe after repeated statements by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that the Jewish state should be wiped off the map.

Copyright © AFP 2007

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