Kerry Assures Sharon of His Commitment to Israel's Security

Nathan Guttman
Haaretz Correspondent
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Nathan Guttman
Haaretz Correspondent

Democratic presidential candidate Senator John Kerry on Friday assured Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of his commitment to Israel's security, aides to Kerry said.

Kerry made the comments during a phone call from Sharon to congratulate him on his official nomination as the Democratic candidate in November's presidential elections, and added his congratulations to Senator John Edwards for his nomination as the candidate for vice-president.

Sharon told Kerry that the friendship between Israel and the United States transcended political parties.

During their conversation, Kerry informed Sharon that he has no argument with President George W. Bush's support for Sharon's rejection of a Palestinian right of return to Israeli territory. Click here to join the debate "Bush or Kerry: Who's better on the Middle East?"

The Massachusetts senator offered his condolences for the suicide attack on the Israeli embassy in Uzbekistan earlier in the day, in which two Uzbeki members of the embassy's security team were killed.

A senior aide to Kerry on Thursday denied reports that the Kerry camp was angered by the current Israeli government's reported preference for Bush, adding that Kerry anticipated talks or a meeting with the prime minister in the near future.

Haaretz reported Thursday that there was growing dissatisfaction in the U.S. Democratic Party and in Kerry's campaign headquarters with the Israeli government's attitude toward them this election season.

The Kerry camp denied this, saying that it was looking forward to closer ties with Jerusalem, once Kerry's candidacy was made official.

"We expect that now that Kerry is formally the candidate the relationship with Sharon will strengthen, including conversations and possible meetings in the future," James Rubin, the Kerry campaign's senior advisor on foreign policy, told Haaretz.

Rubin rejected reports of a rift between Kerry and Jerusalem, saying that "even though there are many Jewish Democrats, with many different views, I can formally say that we have a very close and normal working relationship with the Sharon government."

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