Cheney reaffirms U.S.-Israel ties


The United States will never stray from its concern for Israel’s security, Dick Cheney said.

The U.S. vice president arrived Saturday in Israel for high-level talks about progress in the Palestinian peace track, Iran’s nuclear program and other regional issues.

With Palestinians accusing Jerusalem of poor faith in peacemaking and many international observers speculating that the Israelis may have to cope with a nuclear-armed Iran alone, Cheney made a point of reaffirming Washington’s commitment to the Jewish state.

“America’s commitment to Israel’s security is enduring and unshakable,” he told reporters after meeting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, “as is our commitment to Israel’s right to defend itself always against terrorism, rocket attacks and other threats from forces dedicated to Israel’s destruction.”

Though Cheney said “tough decisions and painful concessions” are expected from both Israel and the Palestinians, “the United States will never pressure Israel to take steps that threaten its security.” That appeared to be an allusion to Palestinian demands for sweeping removals of West Bank checkpoints and other Israeli precautions against terrorist infiltrations.

On Sunday, Cheney was to meet Israeli security chiefs for a discussion of regional strategy.

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