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Clinton asks Israeli leaders to bolster Palestinian Authority

JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israel and the United States are on the same page on Iran, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters in Jerusalem.

She also reiterated during Monday night’s news conference, which began an hour late, that the U.S. "commitment to Israel is rock solid. By strengthening Israel’s security we are strengthening U.S. security."

Clinton in meetings Monday with Israeli leaders called on them to take steps to strengthen the Palestinian Authority, Haaretz reported.

"We remain focused on relaunching peace talks," Clinton told reporters, adding that the international community can help but it was up to the parties to do the work.

Clinton also said that during her meetings with Egyptian authorities in Cairo, she offered the message that the U.S. wants the new leadership in Egypt to uphold its peace treaty with Israel.

Clinton arrived in Israel on Monday and met first with President Shimon Peres, where she said they spoke about "Egypt and Syria, peace efforts, Iran and other regional and global issues." She then met with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. Clinton also met with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad before holding the news conference.

She will return to the United States on Tuesday, capping a 12-day, nine-country trip. It is her first visit to Israel in two years and possibly her last as secretary of state.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is scheduled to arrive in Jerusalem next week for talks on Iran’s nuclear program and the situation in Syria, which has been called a civil war by the International Red Cross.

The U.S. National Security Council said Sunday that National Security Advisor Tom Donilon visited Israel over the weekend for consultations with Netanyahu, Barak and his Israeli counterpart, Gen. Yaakov Amidror.

In a statement, NSC spokesman Tommy Vietor told reporters on Sunday evening that Donilon had reaffirmed the "unwavering commitment" of the United States to Israel’s security. He said Donilon’s visit was the latest in a series of ongoing U.S. consultations with Israeli officials on a range of regional security issues.
 

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