US President Barack Obama on Tuesday gave a hint as to the messages he would bring with him on his upcoming spring visit to the Middle East by declaring America's stand with Israel in "pursuit of security and a lasting peace."
“We will stand steadfast with Israel in pursuit of security and a lasting peace,” Obama stated in his State of Union speech, to a standing ovation. He did not, however, mention the Palestinians in his reference to a lasting peace.
Obama addressed the Iranian nuclear issue to say that Iran must recognize that America will do what is "necessary" to prevent them from getting a nuclear weapon, saying that now is the time for dialogue and a diplomatic solution.
He commented on the Western coalition which "stands united in demanding that Iran meet their obligations."
The National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) hailed Obama's strong statement of support for Israel during his State of the Union address.
NJDC Chair Marc R. Stanley stated: "President Obama's strong words in support of Israel tonight reflect his unyielding commitment to the safety and security of the Jewish state."
In an apparent reference to Syria and the concern over unconventional weapon transfers, Obama proposed to continue leading the global effort to secure nuclear materials that could fall into the wrong hands.
"We will keep the pressure on a Syrian regime that has murdered its own people, and support opposition leaders that respect the rights of every Syrian," Obama said.
Addressing the global response to North Korea's nuclear test
, Obama said the United States would strengthen its missile defense and help the world respond to the threat posed by North Korea, which defied the international community by conducting its third nuclear test.
In a State of the Union address that focused mainly on the domestic economy, Obama touched on some of his top foreign policy goals. He said the United States would bring 34,000 US troops home next year as the war in Afghanistan wraps up, and said he wanted to work with Russia to reduce global nuclear stockpiles.
Obama also acknowledged concerns about his administration's counter-terrorism strategy and said he would work with Congress to improve transparency of "our targeting, detention and prosecution of terrorists," and ensure it is consistent with US law. Reuters contributed to this report.