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Secretary Antony J. Blinken and Israeli President Isaac Herzog Before Their Meeting – United States Department of State

PRESIDENT HERZOG:  Welcome, Mr. Secretary.  It was wonderful to see you before at the Oval Office with President Biden.  I want to thank you and I want to thank the entire U.S. administration for hosting me so graciously as we mark 75 years for Israel’s independence, a great historic moment, and of course marking the unique relations between Israel and the United States.

And I want to thank you, Mr. Secretary, for pursuing such important goals as containing and limiting and stopping the Iranian nuclear program; as building a regional coalition of nations that pursues peace and wants more and more integration of Israel in the region; of course dealing with major challenges of humanity where Israel can contribute dramatically.  And we will be discussing, of course, the situation in Lebanon and the issue of the missing in action and POWs in Gaza.

Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary, for your friendship and support.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, Mr. President, it is both a pleasure and an honor to be with you.  We’ve had the opportunity to meet here in Washington, in Israel, and I can tell you that for me, for the administration, and most importantly for the President, we’re grateful for your leadership and your partnership.  We have, indeed, a unique relationship grounded in our commitment to Israel’s security, but also grounded in democratic values.  And the work that you’re doing, the leadership that you’re showing in affirming those values, in bringing people together in affirmation of those values, could not be more important.

And as you said, we are deeply committed to working together in dealing with the challenge posed by Iran, particularly in making sure that it never acquires a nuclear weapon.  We’re deeply committed to the normalization process and both deepening and expanding Israel’s relations with its neighbors far and wide.  And we’re also committed to finding a way forward toward two states and – for two peoples, something that we continue to believe is essential to Israel’s long-term security and its standing as a democratic and Jewish state.

In these areas and in so many others, our partnership is deeply (inaudible), and the appreciation we have for the role that you’re playing in particular could not be greater.  I think it’s also a very special occasion that you’re here on the 75th anniversary and particularly poignant that you’ll be following in the footsteps of your father tomorrow in addressing a joint session of our Congress.  We’re very much looking forward to that.

PRESIDENT HERZOG:  Thank you very much.


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