World leaders congratulate Israel on Independence Day
Dozens of leaders sent Peres, Israel greetings; Obama on Independence Day: Our ties will only strengthen.
U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders sent Israel greetings and warm wishes on the occasion of the country's 62nd Independence Day.
The relationship between Israel and the U.S. "will only be strengthened in the months and years to come," Obama said in a special statement.
"Minutes after David Ben-Gurion declared Israel's independence, realizing the dream of a state for the Jewish people in their historic homeland, the United States became the first country to recognize Israel," Obama said.
"To this day, we continue to share a strong, unbreakable bond of friendship between our two nations, anchored by the United States' enduring commitment to Israel's security," Obama continued.
Obama also said his administration would continue to work toward a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"I look forward to continuing our efforts with Israel to achieve comprehensive peace and security in the region, including a two-state solution, and to working together to counter the forces that threaten Israel, the United States, and the world," he said.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, meanwhile, sent a letter to President Shimon Peres calling for a resumption of peace talks with the Palestinians and the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
Other world leaders including Britain's Queen Elizabeth, Russian President Dmitry Mevedev, German President Horst Koehler, the Netherlands' Queen Beatrix, Mexican President Felipe Calderon, Slovenian President Danilo Turk, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, East Timorese President José Ramos-Horta and Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf also sent greetings to Israel for Independence Day.
Turkish President Abdullah Gul also wrote to Peres, saying, "I would like to take this opportunity to repeat and confirm our desire to advance relations with Israel on a basis of mutual interests and by contributing to peace and stability in the Middle East."
On Sunday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States will continue to stand by Israel through its many challenges, adding that Washington was determined to reach a comprehensive Middle East peace agreement.
In a video message posted on the State Department website in honor of Israel's independence day, Clinton said, in a possible reference to remaining tensions over Iran's contentious nuclear program, that while "Israel today is confronting some of the greatest challenges in its history," its "promise and potential have never been greater."
"The United States will continue to stand with you, sharing your risks and helping shoulder your burdens, as we face the future together," the U.S. secretary of State added.
Clinton also stressed what she called her "deep personal commitment to Israel," one she claimed to have shared with President Obama, adding that Washington would "not waver in protecting Israel's security and promoting Israel's future."
"That is why pursuing peace and recognized borders for Israel is one of our top priorities," Clinton said, adding that she believed it was "possible - indeed necessary - to achieve a comprehensive peace in the Middle East that provides Israelis, Palestinians, and all the people of the region security, prosperity, and the opportunity to live up to their full God-given potential."
Meanwhile, Washington celebrated Israel's Independence Day early, at a ceremony that was to be held at the embassy itself and was moved to a distant location near the Capitol. The event, held last Thursday, was replete with kebabs and hummus.
Among the guests were Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's national security adviser Uzi Arad and envoy Michael Oren, along with other Israeli diplomats and academics, and American officials including Obama adviser David Axelrod and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, National Security Council member Dan Shapiro and AIPAC President Lee Rosenberg.
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