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He asserted that there is still time for diplomacy and international sanctions to resolve the Iran problem.

“These other tracks do have some time to continue to try to influence the outcome in Iran,” he said.

In the interview en route to Tel Aviv, Mr. Hagel was asked whether the Obama administration has determined whether the Syrian government has used chemical weapons against opposition rebels. He said intelligence analysts still are assessing the evidence and have not reached a conclusion.

After his talks in Israel, Mr. Hagel is scheduled to visit Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. Each of those four is an important American ally in the Middle East, and each is worried by Syria’s civil war.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE are part of a $10 billion proposed U.S. arms sale that includes Israel. The UAE would get about 26 F-16 fighters, and it and Saudi Arabia would get advanced air-launched missiles.

U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry is also in the region. He is working to mend the strained relationship between Turkey and Israel and on Sunday he announced the White House is doubling its nonlethal assistance to the Syrian opposition to $250 million.