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Israel PM congratulates Obama, says ties strong

Netanyahu congratulates Obama for his winning a second term in the White House, praising ties between two countries

AFP , Wednesday 7 Nov 2012
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Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday congratulated US President Barack Obama on his re-election, saying ties between their two countries were "stronger than ever."

"The prime minister congratulates the president of the United States for his victory in the election," Netanyahu said in a statement. "The strategic alliance between Israel and the United States is stronger than ever."

"I will continue to work with President Obama to ensure the vital security interests of Israel and the United States," Netanyahu added, saying he would meet later Wednesday with US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro.

Relations between Obama and Netanyahu have at times been tense, with the Israeli leader appearing to throw his support behind Obama's Republican opponent Mitt Romney during the election campaign.

But in recent weeks, as Obama's re-election looked increasingly likely, Israeli officials stressed that a second term for the US president would not mean a deterioration in bilateral ties.

Israel's Defence Minister Ehud Barak also offered Obama his congratulations, saying he expected the US president to continue to offer Israel strong support. "I have no doubt that the Obama administration will continue its policy whereby Israel's security is at its very foundations, as well as its efforts to tackle the challenges facing all of us in the region," he said in a statement.

"I believe that in the tradition of deep friendship and with a backdrop of shared experiences accrued with President Obama, it will also be possible to overcome any differences in stance, should they arise."

Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman offered his own congratulations, saying he expected Obama would "continue to promote and preserve the great friendship between the two countries and people based on common values."

Israeli Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom offered a similar assessment. "All the US administrations have supported Israel on the political, security and economic fronts because we have common interests and values," he told public radio.

"Barack Obama has been with us during the most sensitive moments," he added. "Those who say that it will be hard and that there will be a confrontation during the second Obama term are wrong."

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