- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 20, 2013

With President Obama standing at his side, Israeli President Peres played down any differences between the two countries on the U.S. approach to preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, saying he trusts his policy, as well as his vision for the Middle East.

“We trust your policy to use non-military means while making a clear statement that all options remain on the table,” Mr. Peres said after meeting with Mr. Obama at the presidential residence in Jerusalem. “You made it clear that your intention is not to contain but to prevent.”

On the first day of Mr. Obama’s first presidential trip to Israel, Mr. Peres also thanked Mr. Obama for the continued investment in the Iron Dome anti-missile system as well as U.S. efforts to ensure that Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles are contained.

Mr. Peres also described democratic uprisings during the Arab spring as an “Arab right” that could “bring peace to the region, freedom to the people.”

“We pray it will become a reality,” he said.

He also gave Mr. Obama credit for having “an impressive record of answering our needs” particularly in the domain of security and said he supports his Middle East policy.

SEE ALSO: ‘Shadow war’ between Israel, Iran rages on as Obama visits

“Your vision is achievable” he said.

Mr. Obama, in turn, publicly reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to Israel’s security and stressed his concern for the children of Israel and their future.

“I reaffirmed to President Peres — the state of Israel will have no greater friend than the United States,” Mr. Obama said.

He also thanked Mr. Peres for his “wise and thoughtful” counsel and his gracious hospitality during the trip.

“You once told me, a prime minister’s job is to rule and a president’s job is to charm,” Mr. Obama said. “I have once again succumbed to your charms, and I am grateful for your hospitality.”

Mr. Obama focused much of his message on the children of Israel, saying their “dreams are much the same as children everywhere,” including his own children and all American children. Those children, he said, deserve a future safe from threats and rockets.

Before the meeting, Mr. Obama and Mr. Peres walked through the presidential garden to plant a magnolia tree brought from the White House as a gift. Later Wednesday, he will meet privately with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The two have had a rocky relationship during Mr. Obama’s first term, and observers will be watching for any sign that their rift has either widened or narrowed, especially when as it concerns Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Obama said he considers his first visit to Israel as president a chance to highlight the “unbreakable bond” between the two nations.

“I see this visit as an opportunity to reaffirm the unbreakable bond between our two nations,” he said upon arriving at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, where he began his three-day visit to the U.S. ally in the Middle East. “We share a common story.”

In those initial remarks, Mr. Obama also said peace must comes to the Middle East and closed his remarks by underscoring the “eternal alliance” between the United States and Israel.



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