Hillary Clinton - AFP - Feb 14, 2011
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks in Washington DC, February 14, 2011. Photo by AFP
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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released a statement wishing Israel well on its 63rd birthday, to be celebrated on Independence Day this Tuesday.

Clinton said in the statement that although Israel in a young country, it has a "rich history that holds deep meaning for so many". The secretary of state commended Israel on its impressive achievements over the years, saying that they are "a testament to your hardworking citizens, innovative economy, and commitment to democratic institutions."

She continued, calling Israel "a beacon of hope and freedom for so many around the world".

Clinton emphasized the special relationship Israel and the United States share, saying that 63 years ago, at the inception of the State of Israel, the U.S. was the first country to recognize the country's independence. She talked of the "deep, unshakable friendship and bond" that the U.S. and Israel share, adding that the two countries are bound by shared values, and the pursuit of freedom, equality and democracy.

The secretary of state was hopeful, saying that U.S.-Israel ties are only growing stronger, with cooperation in both security and trade. Clinton added that she foresaw these collaborative efforts as essential to "securing a brighter future for all our people".

Clinton closed her statement reflecting on the unrest that has shaken up the Middle East in recent months, leading to the deposal of leaders in both Egypt and Tunisia, and scores dead in Libya and Syria. She acknowledged the "rapid change" in the region, saying this is "a moment of uncertainty, but also of opportunity."

She reiterated that Israel's security is a top priority and a cornerstone of U.S. policy, stressing the United States' commitment to bringing about "a comprehensive peace between Israel and all of its neighbors".