WASHINGTON - US President Barak Obama sent the people of Israel his "warmest wishes" for Israel's 66th Independence Day calling the Jewish state "a diverse and vibrant democracy."
Meanwhile US National Security Adviser Susan Rice will travel to Israel on Wednesday and Thursday for regularly scheduled meetings with Israeli counterparts, the White House said on Tuesday.
"Generations of Jews dreamed of the day when the Jewish people would have their own state in their historic homeland, and 66 years ago today that dream came true," Obama wrote in a statement for "Yom Haatzmaut".
US President Barack Obama (Photo: AFP)
He reminded that "the United States was the first nation to recognize the government of Israel in 1948, and today we are still the first to come to Israel’s defense."
The US president further reitereated the US' "unwavering commitment to Israel’s security" and promised "to continue to work with Israel to support a two-state solution to the decades-old conflict, one that ensures that the Israelis will live alongside their neighbors in peace and with security.
Meanwhile, the White House announced that National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice will lead the US delegation to the US-Israel Consultative Group meetings May 7-8.
National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice (Photo: AFP)
The delegation will include senior representatives from the Departments of State, Defense, Treasury, and the Intelligence Community, and will meet with their Israeli counterparts for "strategic interagency consultations" on a "wide range of bilateral and regional security issues," a White House statement said.
Rice's visit, the first in her role as national security adviser, comes as peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians have collapsed. The Obama administration made clear that Middle East peace process talks are not on the agenda for her trip.
Rice is due to meet separately with Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the White House said.
Israel suspended participation in US-brokered negotiations with the Palestinians after President Mahmoud Abbas' unexpected unity pact with the rival Islamist group Hamas, which Israel and the United States consider a terrorist organization.
Reuters contributed to this report