German President Christian Wulff on Sunday reiterated his country's pledge to protect Israel's right to exist, during his first official visit to the country.
"The incomprehensible crimes of the Shoah have made the defense of Israel's right to exist a permanent duty for Germany and Germans," Wulff wrote in the guest book at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial.
Two German teenagers laid a wreath at the memorial's Eternal Flame while Wulff, his 17-year-old daughter Annalene and Israeli President Shimon Peres looked on from the front row.
The teenagers accompanied Wulff to Israel to emphasize Germany's commitment to teaching its youth about the Holocaust. The group also visited the Holocaust museum and the memorial for children, which commemorates the 1.5 million children deliberately killed by the Nazis.
At the beginning of the four-day visit to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, Wulff met with Peres, with the two leaders afterwards stressing the importance of close relations.
"Relations with Germany are so important such as relations can ever be," Peres said. Wulff was the first German president to have been born in the post-war period, he noted.
Wulff and Peres also reviewed the Mideast peace process, with the German president calling for a just peace in which Palestinians and Israelis could live within recognized borders.
A constructive engagement by Israel in the issue of settlements was needed for this process, Wulff said.
Peres also called for peace based on a two-state solution and thanked Germany for its support, saying "Israel has achieved many important things in the domain of science, culture, arts and education, but the thing what we are really lacking is peace."
"We made peace with two countries – Egypt and Jordan – and gave back everything we won in the war and now we are trying to make peace with the Palestinians," Peres said, adding that he believed "that peace with the Palestinians will have an automatic positive effect on the entire region."
The president also reiterated the importance of a peace deal with the Palestinians in aiding the moderate Arab countries, saying peace could help "nations that are against terror and against new religious imperialism like the Iranians are trying to introduce." At the same time, the 87-year-old politician criticized the Iranian leadership.
"The only aim that they have is the aim of war," Peres said.
The German president was due to meet Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman later on Sunday.
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