Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon tried to accentuate the positive elements of the U.S.-Israeli relationship on Monday, at the beginning of the Pentagon chief's tough job of selling the Iran nuclear deal to Middle Eastern leaders.

Ya'alon told reporters before the defense leaders met in Tel Aviv that Israel "appreciates the relationship" with the United States, adding: "despite all of the differences, we share common interest and common values."

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The deal has severely strained U.S.-Israeli relations. Last week, Iran agreed to accept limits on its nuclear ambitions that begin to expire in 10 years in exchange for international legitimacy and relief from sanctions that have crippled its economy.

Carter was set to meet later Monday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the deal's harshest international critic, who hinted Sunday that he would lobby U.S. lawmakers to disapprove of it. Lawmakers have 60 days to consider the agreement.

"I feel it's my obligation as the prime minister of Israel to speak out against something that endangers the survival of my country, the security of the region, the security of the world," Netanyahu told CBS. "This deal paves Iran's path to a nuclear arsenal, and makes the problem of terrorism in the region and in the world much worse by giving Iran billions of dollars for their war on terror machine."

Speaking to reporters en route to Israel, Carter said the deal doesn't take away the option of using military force to curb Iranian behaviors that threaten the United States and its allies.

"I'm not going to change anybody's mind in Israel. That's not the purpose of my trip," he said. "The purpose of my trip is to work on all the things that we do together: to guarantee the security of American interests in the region, and very importantly one of those is the security of Israel.

He added: "The deal doesn't limit the United States in any way. It doesn't limit what we do to carry out our strategy in the region. It doesn't limit what we can and will do in defense of our good and staunch friend Israel."

After Israel, Carter will travel to Saudi Arabia and Jordan to meet with leaders in those countries, who also have been skeptical of the deal and are concerned it leaves Iran free to threaten their security.