The US bond with Israel is "as unshakeable as ever" as both nations pursue peace, US President Obama said on Israel's 61st birthday. "On behalf of the people of the United States, President Obama congratulates the people and government of Israel on the 61st anniversary of Israel's independence," said the statement issued Tuesday by the White House. "The United States was the first country to recognize Israel in 1948, minutes after its declaration of independence, and the deep bonds of friendship between the US and Israel remain as strong and unshakable as ever. "The President looks forward to working with Israel to advance our common interests, including the realization of a comprehensive peace in the Middle East, ensuring Israel's security, and strengthening the bilateral relationship, over the months and years to come," the statement continued. Obama is scheduled to meet President Shimon Peres in Washington next week. Peres will be the first Israeli leader to be hosted by the new president, after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu pushed back his inaugural visit to Washington until mid-May.