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Clinton to Peres: Friends like us must act together
By GREER FAY CASHMAN
07/16/2012
US secretary of state meets president in J'lem, praising him for "knowing the inextricable link between security and peace."
 
“Please don’t stop your efforts to bring peace to the Middle East,” President Shimon Peres said on Sunday in his parting remarks to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, with whom he conducted an hour-long working session before they both made statements to the media.

In welcoming Clinton to his official residence, Peres described her as “a constant friend” and said that she was “blowing the wind of freedom” all over the world.

The two discussed the changes taking place in the Middle East, Clinton’s visit to Egypt, the ongoing Iranian problem, the wholesale slaughter that is ravaging the Syrian population and the chances of releasing convicted spy Jonathan Pollard on humanitarian grounds.

The Pollard question comes up in all of Peres’s discussions with American leadership and influential American figures.

Across the road from the President’s Residence, activists in the Justice for Jonathan Pollard group were joined by children holding poster boards bearing the faces and statements of Pollard, Peres, Henry Kissinger, former CIA director James Woolsey, former Mideast envoy Dennis Ross and even Clinton herself, who have all at some point expressed support for releasing the jailed spy.

The youngsters chanted in English: “Justice, justice, free Pollard,” “Justice, justice, he should be released” and “Justice, justice, enough is enough.”

Peres told Clinton how much Israelis appreciated that she came to the country immediately following her visit to Egypt. Israel was particularly interested in her impressions, he said, because Egypt is the key country in the Middle East, and peace is dependant on Egypt and Israel continuing the march to freedom.

Peres credited Clinton with introducing a new brand of diplomacy which is not only government to government, but people to people, and which sets a precedent as “a diplomacy of values, and not just a diplomacy of interests.”

Peres thanked Clinton for her efforts in trying to bring about peace between Israel and her neighbors, and said that Israel is interested in keeping peace with her largest Arab neighbor, Egypt. Peace between Israel and Egypt has saved thousands of Egyptian and Israeli lives, he said.

The president also acknowledged Clinton and US President Barack Obama’s handling of the Iran issue, while leaving all options on the table.

Terror is a danger to everyone he said, and everyone must understand that Iran must be prevented from endangering the lives, freedom and independence of others.

Peres also expressed the hope that Iran could soon return to its former culture and become a free nation that is neither under threat nor threatening to others.

Peres also declared the violence in Syria to be raging out of control, and applauded the unprecedented condemnation from the Arab League, of which Syria is a member, against Syrian policy.

“I would like to see the children of Syria safe and not assassinated by their own dictator,” said Peres, who suggested that the US lead a combined international effort against Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Returning momentarily to the subject of Iran, Peres said that while confronting the Iranian challenge, chances for peace – first and foremost with the Palestinians – should not be ignored.

“We should not give up hope,” he said. “We should be consistent and determined.”

Clinton, who shares a long friendship with Peres, said that she was delighted to be with him once more and to benefit from his advice and counsel.

Relating to the changes and transformations in the region, she said that while there was a lot of uncertainty, there were also opportunities to advance the goals of people seeking a better future.

Echoing Obama’s words that no one has done as much as Peres to build an alliance between Israel and the United States, Clinton added that no one knows better than Peres the inextricable link between peace and security.

She congratulated Peres on completing his fifth year in office, thereby reaching yet another milestone. She also wished him an early happy birthday ahead of him reaching his 89th year in the first week of August.

Peres and Clinton, who at all their meetings with the media make a point of emphasizing their friendship, walked out to her car with their arms wrapped around each other.
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