US secretary of State: Israel, US remain allies despite government change
The US and Israel will remain "fundamental" allies even if differences of opinion surface between it and hardline Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton assured Tuesday.
"We look forward to working with the new government when it is formed," she said, asked about the clash of outlooks regarding a two- solution to the Middle East conflict., reported dpa
The US, she told a news conference in Jerusalem, "has always worked with and supported the government and the people of Israel and will continue to do so.
"Eventually the inevitability of working toward a two-state solution seems inescapable. That doesn't mean that we don't respect the opinion of others who see it differently, but from my perspective and from the perspective of the Obama administration time is of the essence."
"The US will be vigorously engaged in pursuit of a two-state solution every step of the way," she pledged.
"The road ahead, we acknowledge, is a difficult one but there is no time to waste."
Regarding Iran, Clinton said the new US administration shared Israel's concern about Tehran's alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons.
The goal of any engagement with Iran would be to dissuade it from obtaining such weapons, she assured, promising that "whatever we do will be done thoughtfully, in consultation with our friends and allies, most particularly Israel."
In a departure from the past US policy, Clinton also announced the new administration would be sending two officials - a White House and a State Department representative - to Damascus for talks with Syrian leaders. During the Bush administration, only members of Congress visited the previously isolated Baathist regime.
Clinton spoke after meeting Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who said Israel would cooperate with the international community in its efforts to rebuild Gaza, so long as all aid passed through the "legitimate" Palestinian Authority of moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and bypassed the rival Hamas administration in the strip.