Hillary in Israel; discusses Syria, Iran

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham and Israel`s President Shimon Peres discussed the need to stop violence in Syria.

Zeenews Bureau

Jerusalem: Visiting US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham on Monday held talks with Israel`s President Shimon Peres.

The duo discussed the need to stop violence in Syria and Iran`s potential production of nuclear weapons.

As her final visit to Israel as US secretary of state, Hillary brought a message of solidarity to the Jewish state after three-and-a-half years of only stunted progress toward a Palestinian peace deal.

After their visit, they each issued a statement to reporters without taking questions. Peres spoke about the importance of maintaining Israel`s three-decade peace with Egypt, and decried the violence in neighbouring Syria.

He also voiced support for the Obama administration`s pressure on Iran to halt its nuclear activities — which has sometimes been a point of contention between a cautious US keen to give negotiations and sanctions time to work and an Israeli government that has threatened military action.

Hillary said she spoke with Peres about "Egypt and Syria, peace efforts, Iran and other regional and global issues”. She said she`d speak in greater detail later Monday, after meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

She returns to Washington early Tuesday, ending a 12-day, nine-country trip that included stops in Europe and Asia.

Her visit to Israel follows a weekend visit by President Barack Obama`s National Security Adviser Tom Donilon. Defence Secretary Leon Panetta is expected to visit Israel soon.

Although Monday`s agenda is designed to cover the breadth of US-Israeli relations, the lack of action on peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians will be in the spotlight.

Asked in an interview Sunday with WJLA-TV, a Washington DC station, what he believed he failed at, Obama cited Arab-Israeli peace efforts.

"I have not been able to move the peace process forward in the Middle East the way I wanted," he said. "It`s something we focused on very early. But the truth of the matter is that the parties, they`ve got to want it as well."

Hillary hasn`t visited Israel since September 2010. With little to show for US efforts on a two-state peace agreement and a hectic schedule before she steps down as secretary of state next year, it is unlikely she`ll return. Hillary has said she would leave the post, even if Obama wins a second term.

(With Agency inputs)

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