Gates goes to Ramallah after meeting Netanyahu

First American Defense Secretary to visit Ramallah says he "looks forward to the prospects for a two-state solution."

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March 27, 2011 02:14
1 minute read.
PM Netanyahu meets US Defense Secretary Gates

Netanyahu Gates 311. (photo credit: GPO)

 
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Robert Gates on Friday became the first US Defense Secretary to visit the Palestinian Authority, going to Ramallah following a meeting in Caesarea with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

Israeli officials downplayed the significance of the brief Ramallah trip, saying it was not a major symbolic event since US presidents and secretaries of state have gone there in the past.

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“It is a great pleasure for me to welcome Secretary Gates to Palestine,” Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said.

“This is a time of great challenge throughout the region. But also a time of opportunity, requiring a redoubling of the effort aimed at pursuing the cause of peace, justice and security.”

Gates, who noted that he was “the first American secretary of defense to visit Ramallah,” said “I look forward to our talks ... obviously the political developments around the region, but also the prospects for a two-state solution.”

The US Defense Department website says Gates has visited 104 different countries since taking office in 2006. He is expected to step down later this year.

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Gates met Netanyahu before going to Ramallah, and prior to that meeting said that at no time in the history of US-Israel relations “has our defense and security relationship been stronger than it is today.”

Netanyahu, referring to last week’s bombing in Jerusalem and the continuing missile attacks from Gaza, said that US President Barack Obama told him in a telephone conversation on Thursday that “the US stands behind you in your struggle against terrorism.”

Netanyahu said that civilized nations must make it clear that the terrorism will not be tolerated. “Israel will not tolerate these attacks,” he said. “We stand ready to act with great force and great determination to put a stop to it.”

Reuters contributed to this report.

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