US President Barack Obama held
the first meeting in his Mideast tour on Wednesday and met with President Shimon Peres
at the President's Residence in Jerusalem. Obama later met with Prime Minister Benjamin
A children's choir greeted the US president at the President's Residence. Obama signed the residence's guestbook and together with Peres planted a tree at the residence's garden.
"It is a great honor to visit Israel and reaffirm years of friendship between our countries and our people," Obama wrote in the guestbook.
Obama and Peres (Photo: AFP)
Prior to his meeting with Netanyahu, Obama met with the prime minister's wife Sara and the couple's son, Yair. After a brief conversation with the couple as well with as members of the PM's bureau, the US president signed the prime minister's guestbook.
Obama wrote: "It is a great honor to reaffirm the extraordinary bond between our two countries. By every measure, from security to our economy, our cooperation has never been greater, and that in part is because of the strong commitment of Prime Minister Netanyahu. May our bound continue to grow on behalf of people and prosperity for all people."
|Obama jokes with Israeli officials|
After meeting with Peres, the two gave brief statements. Peres said, "It is a real pleasure to sit with a true friend.
"After the meeting I have more confidence that your vision can transform the Middle East.
You arrived here with an impressive record, particularly in the field of security and I want to thank you very much for many sleepless nights.
"We live in an age that is both global and domestic. Interests may divide but vision may unite, a common vision unites us, to bring peace closer. The greatest danger is a nuclear Iran. We trust your policy to try first by non-military means with a clear statement that other options remain on the table."
Peres then discussed the Palestinian issue. "There is no better or more achievable goal than the two-state solution," he said.
"Abu Mazen is our partner in our effort to stop terror and bring peace. Hamas remains a terror organization that targets citizens. Iran's proxy in the north Hezbollah continues to target innocent people across the world, Hezbollah is destroying Lebanon and supports the brutal genocide in Syria. "
Renewing US support for the difficult "work of generations," Obama assured Israel that his administration would continue to pursue the elusive Mideast peace, one that would allow residents of the Jewish state to live in peace and free from the threat of terror.
|Obama, Peres give statements after meeting|
"In this work, the state of Israel will have no greater friend than the United States," Obama declared.
Obama said, "President Peres knows this is the work of a generation, much like he joined the struggle for independence in his twenties, he still looks to the future and I thank him for letting me spend time with these children.
"They want to be free from rockets, they want to live in peace, free from terror and threats, that’s the future they deserve and that is the vision that is shared by both me and President Peres."
Obama signs presidential guestbook (Photo: AFP)
He further added, "The children we saw today will have an opportunity for peace and prosperity. This obligation was represented by the tree planting.We want to thank you for all the seeds you’ve planted, seeds of progress, seeds of security, seeds of peace and these have helped the relations between our two nations grow.
Addressing Peres, Obama said: "I presented you with the Medal of Honor. Today was another chance from me to enjoy the benefit of your knowledge, from Iran, to our digital age. One of the pleasures of talking to Peres is not just that he has an extraordinary vision, but also a practical political one."
Brief statements (Photo: AFP)
With Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu (Photo: Avi Ohayon, GPO)
Signing guestbook (Photo: Avi Ohayon, GPO)
Earlier, schoolboy Nadav Toledano from Kibbutz Alumim in the south was among those greeting Obama at the President’s Residence. “I want to thank you for your support of Iron Dome, that protected us and gave hope to my family and friends. I wish you much success in your visit here,” he told the president.
Nicole Azrani, 16, said to Obama that she attends a school named in memory of Ilan Ramon, Israel’s first astronaut. “Welcome to Israel, a country that uses peace and science to build a better world for mankind,” the student said.
Peres and Obama at President's Residence (Photo: Amos Ben Gershom, GPO)
Obama, Peres and children's choir (Photo: AP)
Obama planted a seedling in the courtyard of the President’s Residence. He then told his hosts that he was honored to be there, walking through gardens in which so much history had taken place, and that he was honored to be doing so with Peres, a man looked up to not only by Israelis, but by all who value peace.
in Israel after weeks of diplomatic and logistical preparations. It was his first visit to the country as president. Obama arrived on Air Force One at Ben Gurion International Airport shortly after noon.
Plating a tree (Photo: Reuters)
He was welcomed at the airport by President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The US president was all smiles as he embraced Netanyhu and Peres, thanking them for the welcome.
Peres welcomed Obama to Israel saying: "Your visit here is a proud demonstration of the profound relationship between our two nations."
Netanyahu also spoke at the welcoming ceremony saying: "You've chosen to come to Israel as the first foreign visit of your second term..."Thank you for standing by Israel at this time of historic change."
President Obama responded to the warm welcome, saying: "To the people of Israel, thank you for this incredibly warm welcome," he then added in Hebrew: "It's good to be in Israel again."
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