Thursday, 21 March 2013

In first trip as President, Obama pledges eternal support to Israel

Vowing eternal support for America's top Mideast ally, US President Barack Obama on Wednesday assured Israel of his personal commitment to its security and delivered a blunt warning to its foes that the United States has the Jewish state's back. Arriving in Israel on his first trip to the country as president, Obama told the Israeli people at an extravagant welcoming ceremony that "peace must come to the Holy Land'' and that goal would not be achieved at Israel's expense. US backing for Israel will be a constant as the Middle East roils with revolution and Iran continues work on its nuclear program, he said. "The US is proud to stand with you as your strongest ally and your greatest friend,'' Obama said, accepting profuse thanks from Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the tarmac at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport. Obama called his visit "an opportunity to reaffirm the unbreakable bonds between our nations". Seeking to alter a perception that his government has been less supportive of Israel than previous US administrations, Obama declared the US-Israeli alliance "eternal.'' Even before leaving the airport, Obama offered a vivid display of the US commitment to Israeli security by saying: "The United States of America stands with the State of Israel because it is in our fundamental national security interest to stand with Israel.'' In response, Netanyahu thanked Obama for support. TOUR DIARIES RED LINE Red lines in Obama's and Netanyahu's foreign policy rhetoric are not-to-be-crossed warnings to Syria and Iran. As Obama prepared to tour a missile battery, an aide at the Tel Aviv airport directed him to follow the red line on the tarmac. "Bibi's (Netanyahu) always talking to me about red lines,'' Obama quipped. He joked that it was "a psychological ploy.'' Netanyahu replied: "It was minutely planned.'' AP


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