Peres to Clinton: Mideast 'Storm' Must Bring Peace and Democracy

President and U.S. Secretary of State meet in Washington, say optimistic about talks, stress Israel and the United States' close ties and prospects for peace.

President Shimon Peres met with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Monday after he landed in Washington D.C., the first in a series of high-profile meetings scheduled for his U.S. trip this week.

The president and U.S. Secretary of State met at the Blair House, where an Israeli flag had been put up to honor the Israeli visitor. Clinton and Peres met one-on-one, however they spoke with the press prior to their meeting, both full of positive projections for their talk.

Peres Clinton - AP - April 4, 2011

In their statement to the press, Peres, who spoke first, said that Clinton's name for Israel symbolizes "true friendship, even in tough times," and that Israelis are full of respect for her.

The Israeli president added that the Middle East is in the midst of "storm", and he hopes that the recent turmoil that has swept up the region will bring more security, peace and democracy – a change that Israel will support.

Clinton called Peres an "exceptional leader", lauding him for his pursuit of peace. The U.S. secretary of state said that she and President Obama are looking forward to their meetings with him, concurring with his assessment of the trend of uprisings in the Middle East that has come to be known as the 'Arab Spring' and adding that the revolutions are generational, not an overall upheaval of Arab civilizations.

She added that although this is a time of uprisings and uncertainty, it is also an opportunity for change and progress.

"At 88, you are of the youngest people I know and you saw changes much earlier than many of us did," Clinton told Peres, saying she was anticipating the president's vision for the Middle East going forward and how to bring about positive results for the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.

Peres is slotted to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday. Earlier this week, Peres said he plans to "speak with the president about issues pertaining to Israel's security as well as expanding cooperation on security matters with the United States."

Peres added that he also will discuss ways in which the Palestinian-Israeli peace process can move forward in light of the unrest that has recently swept up the region.

The Israeli president made it clear earlier this week that "Israel cannot take upon itself a one-sided agreement by the UN to establish a Palestinian state," adding that he is aware that there is a "built-in majority at the UN that is against the State of Israel. The correct and only way to move forward is to reopen negotiations with the Palestinians without delay."

Peres reminded the public of Obama's obligation to Israel, saying that he is going to the United States to "meet with a true friend. Obama has reiterated to me his commitment to Israel's security, and has told me personally that for the duration of the time that he is president of the United States, Israel security matters will remain high on his list of priorities as president."

The Israeli president will meet with members of Congress on Wednesday, after which he will leave for New York. On Friday he will meet with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and he will return to Israel on Saturday evening.