Hagel and Peres, May 16, 2014.
(photo credit: GPO)
President Shimon Peres met with visiting US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel on Friday and thanked him for the deep cooperation between the United States and Israel, telling him that the US is the most suitable nation to bring peace to the world.
"President [Barack] Obama said that the US does not need to be the policeman of the world. I think that the US must be the world's peacemaker, no one can fill this role in your place," Peres told Hagel.
"Your armed forces are spread all over the world in order to maintain peace. You have fought for peace and freedom more than anything else," the president said.
Hagel arrived in Israel on Thursday. Besides Peres, the US defense chief has met with his Israeli counterpart, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
In the meeting with the Hagel, Peres said that in the last year, relations between the two countries had reached "new and unprecedented heights." Hagel echoed Peres's sentiment
in the press conference before his meeting with Netanyahu. The US defense chief stressed that American support for Israel was currently at "an all-time high."
During his last leg of a tour of the region, Hagel emphasized that Washington was intent on staying involved in issues regarding the Middle East.
"I've been in this complicated region the last week… it's important that we stay close to these events to try to bridge and build, to try to bring peace, stability and security to all people," Hagel stated.
On the stalled Palestinian-Israeli peace process, Peres said there was no alternative to a two-state solution.
Hagel said that he was honored to meet with Peres and that he and Obama were looking forward to receiving the president when he visits the United States in June.