Livni to attend ceremony for 'dear friend' Tom Lantos

Olmert expresses his sorrow over congressman's death and sends condolences to his family.

Lantos 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Lantos 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni will represent Israel at a ceremony on Capitol Hill on Thursday, in which the body of former US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs chairman Tom Lantos will lie in state. Livni, together with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other dignitaries from around the world, will pay their final respects to Lantos, who died on Monday at the age of 80. Lantos's widow, Annette, phoned Israel's former ambassador to the US Danny Ayalon on Tuesday and invited him and his wife Anne to attend the ceremony as well. Ayalon told The Jerusalem Post that during his four-and-a-half-year stint in Washington, a very close personal bond had developed between the two families. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Tuesday expressed his sorrow, as well as that of the government, over Lantos's death and sent condolences to his family. The prime minister said in a statement that Lantos had "contributed decisively to the security of the State of Israel and greatly assisted in maintaining Israel as a Jewish state. In his eyes, a strong Israel was a strategic asset to the US; he worked energetically in order to strengthen Israel-US relations. The State of Israel mourns the loss of a true and dear friend who did much to maintain its strategic interests." Ahead of Israel's 60th anniversary, Olmert had decided to award Lantos a special citation for his great contribution to the country.