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US Congress Gives Warm Welcome to Israeli PM Netanyahu

  • Cindy Saine

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, accompanied by House of Representatives members, gestures during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 6, 2012.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, accompanied by House of Representatives members, gestures during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 6, 2012.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday wrapped up his visit to the United States with a warm welcome from lawmakers in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Iran’s nuclear program is said to have dominated the closed-door talks Netanyahu had with bipartisan groups of Senate and House leaders.

After meeting with the visiting prime minister, Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner said the U.S. Congress will always stand by Israel, and will never allow the Jewish state to stand alone.

“The looming threat of a nuclear Iran cannot be ignored. Ambiguity could lead to serious miscalculations, which is what we collectively hope to avoid,” said Boehner.

Boehner called on the United States and Israel to be clear in their communications with each other, and in their communications with Iran. Some Republican lawmakers and three of the Republican presidential hopefuls have criticized Democratic President Barack Obama for not taking a tough enough stand on Iran. House Majority Leader, Republican Eric Cantor has accused the Obama administration of sending “mixed messages” when it comes to Israel.

House Minority Leader, Democrat Nancy Pelosi said that full U.S. support for Israel's security is a long-standing and bipartisan priority, and that the president has kept his commitment to Israel on preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear weapons state.

“Rejecting containment of Iran and stopping them, preventing them from having a nuclear weapon is in our interests. It is the interest of Israel and the region. It would be a threat to the United States and to the world,” said Pelosi.

Iran says that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only, but Tehran has not allowed international inspectors full access to its nuclear facilities.

Netanyahu told reporters that he had a good visit here in Washington, including his meeting with the president, and singling out his visit on Capitol Hill.

"And now culminating in this remarkable display of solidarity here in the Congress of the United States. It is bipartisan; it cuts across the Senate into the House. There have been wonderful expressions of support that you have just heard from Mr. Boehner and Mrs. Pelosi," said Netanyahu.

Obama asked Israel to remain patient, saying that there is still a “window” to give increasingly tough international sanctions on Iran a chance to work. Netanyahu said that Israel has been patient, while Iran continues to develop its nuclear program. And he stressed that Israel must defend itself.

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