I am here in Jerusalem on such a beautiful day at a moment of great change and transformation in the region. It is a time of uncertainty but also of opportunity. It is a chance to advance our shared goal of security, stability, peace, and democracy, along with prosperity for the millions of people in this region who have yet to see a better future.
And it is in moments like these that friends like us have to think together, act together. We are called to be smart, creative, and courageous. And no one understands all of this as well as President Shimon Peres. We were so honored to have you in the White House last month. And as President Obama said when he awarded Shimon the Presidential Medal of Freedom, no individual has done so much over so many years to build our alliance between our two countries, to bring not just our government but our people closer together. And few people know better than Shimon the inextricable links between security and peace and all that they require.
So I am very grateful to be back in Jerusalem and to have this chance to speak with the President about what we are doing to meet the challenges and pursue the opportunities presented at this historic time.
I look forward to my other meetings today, where we will continue our in-depth discussions on a broad range of matters, including Egypt and Syria, peace efforts, Iran, other regional and global issues. I’ve already had a chance to discuss those with Foreign Minister Lieberman as well as President Peres. I will have more to say about them and all the work that Israel and the United States are doing together at a press conference this evening after I’ve had a chance to meet with Defense Minister Barak, Prime Minister Netanyahu, and members of his cabinet, along with Prime Minister Fayyad.
And so let me close by congratulating Shimon on your fifth year as president, and recognize another milestone in such a distinguished career. I also want to take this opportunity to wish you a happy birthday. I know I’m a little early, but that means I can be the first friend to wish you a very happy birthday. But to say with such great gratitude how much I appreciate you, our friendship, the work we have done together and the work that we will do together in the future.
PRESIDENT PERES: Thank you very much.
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