US President Barack Obama Tuesday congratulated Israel
on the 61st anniversary of
its independence and vowed to pursue mutual interests including "ensuring Israel's security," the White House said.
"The United States was the first country to recognize Israel in 1948, minutes after its declaration of independence, and the deep bonds of friendship between the US and Israel remain as strong and unshakable as ever," the White House said in a statement.
"The president looks forward to working with Israel to advance our common interests, including the realization of a comprehensive peace in the Middle East, ensuring Israel's security, and strengthening the bilateral relationship over the months and years to come."
The Jewish state began celebrating 61 years of statehood at sundown Tuesday with the lighting of torches at a ceremony on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem to mark the anniversary under the Jewish calendar of the end of the British mandate in Palestine May 14, 1948.
Earlier Tuesday the office of Israeli President Shimon Peres said he would visit
Washington next week.
Peres will become the first Israeli leader to meet Obama since he took office in January and since the February election in Israel which brought to power a right-leaning government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu.