World Bulletin / News Desk
U.S. President Barack Obama said at the start of his first official visit to Israel on Wednesday that the U.S. commitment to the security of the Jewish state was rock solid and that peace must come to the Holy Land.
"I see this visit as an opportunity to reaffirm the unbreakable bond between our nations, to restate America's unwavering commitment to Israel's security and to speak directly to the people of Israel and to your neighbours," Obama said at a welcoming ceremony at Tel Aviv airport.
"I am confident in declaring that our alliance is eternal, is forever," he added.
In his welcoming remarks to the U.S. president, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, "thank you for standing by Israel at this time of historic change in the Middle East,"
before viewing with Obama an Iron Dome missile system that was brought to the airport for the president to see. The system is partially U.S.-funded.
At the ceremony, Obama spoke of his hopes for peace - without directly mentioning Palestinians. U.S. officials said he was not bringing any peace initiative with him.
"We stand together because peace must come to the Holy Land," Obama said. "Even as we are clear eyed about the difficulties, we will never lose sight of the vision of an Israel at peace with its neighbours."
U.S.-sponsored peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians have been stalled since 2010 after Israel refused to stop illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.
Obama travels to the West Bank on Thursday for talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and will fly on to Jordan on Friday.
Last Mod: 20 Mart 2013, 14:00