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Obama reiterates commitment to Israel's security
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20:23, July 23, 2008

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Visiting U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on Wednesday assured Israeli officials that he is committed to the Jewish state's security.

"I'm here on this trip to reaffirm the special relationship between Israel and the United States and my abiding commitment to Israel's security and my hope that I can serve as an effective partner, whether as a U.S. senator or as president," Israeli daily Ha'aretz quoted Obama as saying at a meeting with Israeli President Shimon Peres.

Earlier Wednesday, the U.S. senator held separate talks with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, and visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.

During the meeting with Netanyahu, Obama also stressed that Israel's security will always be a top priority, another daily Yedioth Ahronoth reported on its web site.

Ha'aretz also quoted Netanyahu as saying that both men agreed on the "primacy" of preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear power.

Later in the day, Obama is scheduled to meet with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and tour the rockets-stricken southern town of Sderot by helicopter before he holds talks with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in the evening.

The U.S. presidential hopeful is also scheduled to visit the West bank and meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

Responding to a bulldozer rampage in Jerusalem which happened hours before his arrival late Tuesday, Obama had said in Jordan that he strongly condemned the attack, and "will always support Israel in confronting terrorism and pursuing lasting peace and security."

Obama is scheduled to head for Europe early Thursday morning to continue his week-long overseas tour, which has taken him to Afghanistan, Kuwait, Iraq and Jordan.


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