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PRIME MINISTER BENNETT:  Mr. Secretary, I appreciate you taking time on a pretty active day here (inaudible).  It means a lot (inaudible).

Israel has no stronger and more reliable ally than the United States of America.  From our inception and to this day, especially these days, you’re always with us, you have our back, and that matters a lot to us.  I can ensure you that you’ll find no friend which is more reliable and appreciative than us.  I bring from Israel a new spirit – a spirit of folks who sometimes harbor different opinions, but work together in cooperation, in goodwill, in a spirit of unity, and we work hard to find the common things that we do agree upon and move forward on it, and it seems to be working.  And this is the same spirit that I want to bring to our relationship of cooperation, of goodwill, of friendship.  We’re going to be talking about a bunch of issues, primarily how do we fend off and curtail Iran’s pursuit to dominate the region and its race to a nuclear weapon.

We’ll also talk about regional stability and climate change, which is an issue for all of us, and I think Israel has a unique role in – through its high-tech industry and technology to move the needle.  And I’m looking forward to having a very, very good relationship with you.  I appreciate the time.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Prime Minister, it is a true pleasure to welcome you to Washington as prime minister.  And I know how much President Biden is looking forward to seeing you tomorrow.  I think, as you know, he has known and worked with every Israeli prime minister going back to Golda Meir, but he’s especially looking forward to seeing you, his new partner.

And that partnership really is founded on a proposition that our two countries, working together, have a very important and very powerful common agenda, and our commitment to that partnership, to Israel’s security, is and always will be unshakable.  And we look forward to addressing all of these challenges that we face, particularly regional security, and the deep concerns that we share about Iran and the role that it’s playing in the region, including its nuclear program.  But also, on a more positive note, the relationship that Israel is developing with other countries in the region – I think a very important development, and one that we look forward to helping to build on – as well as dealing with other challenges, including the relationship with the Palestinians, which is I know very important to all of us.

So we look forward to a very good conversation.  You’ve already seen the Secretary of Defense, and again, the – we’re just the opening act to the President.

PRIME MINISTER BENNETT:  I have news for you.  There’s no elections in Israel now, (inaudible).  (Laughter.)

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, and I have to say, not that I want to intrude in your politics, but it has been —

PRIME MINISTER BENNETT:  Please do.  (Laughter.)  Maybe you’ll help.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  No, I was going to say maybe you have something to teach us.  So thank you.  We look forward to learning about that too (inaudible).

PRIME MINISTER BENNETT:  Thank you very much.  Thank you very much.

U.S. Department of State

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