Israeli President Isaac Herzog met with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday after visiting President Joe Biden at the White House.
In statements issued before the meeting, the two leaders expressed mutual appreciation for the “unique relations” between the countries and discussed the shared goal of countering the Iranian threat.
“I want to thank you Mr. Secretary for pursuing such important goals as containing and limiting, and stopping the Iranian nuclear program, as building a regional coalition of nations which pursues peace and wants more and more integration with Israel in the region,” Herzog stated.
The president also said that the two would discuss the situation in Lebanon, in an apparent reference to the tensions at the Israel-Lebanon border due to Hezbollah provocations, as well as Israelis missing in action and held prisoner in Gaza.
Herzog brought to Washington with him Leah Goldin, the mother of Lt. Hadar Goldin, who was killed in action in the Gaza Strip in 2014 and whose body is being held by the Hamas terrorist group.
Blinken echoed Herzog’s remarks, saying that “we are deeply committed to working together in dealing with the challenge posed by Iran. In particular making sure that it never acquires a nuclear weapon. We are deeply committed to the normalization process and both deepening and expanding Israel’s relations with its neighbors far and wide.”
The top U.S. diplomat also praised Herzog for “affirming democratic values” by “bringing people together.” He also reiterated the U.S. stance in support of “two states for two peoples,” which he said was “essential for Israel’s long-term security and its standing as a democratic Jewish state.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Herzog met with Biden in the Oval Office, lauding a “wonderful meeting” in an address to foreign reporters and calling the U.S. president a “huge friend of Israel.”
Herzog told reporters that he and the president discussed “many issues” during the meeting, including the “Iranian nuclear threat.”
“Naturally we also discussed the internal issues in Israel,” Herzog said, referring to the Netanyahu government’s judicial reform effort. “We should see the current debate in Israel with all its facets as a tribute to the strength of the Israeli democracy.”
Herzog’s meeting at the White House on Tuesday was the first stop in the Israeli head of state’s official trip to Washington and New York.
He is scheduled to address a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, on the occasion of Israel’s 75th anniversary.
“I thank the leadership of the United States Congress, led by Speaker of the House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy and his predecessor Nancy Pelosi, for the historic privilege to address a joint session of both Houses of Congress marking the 75th anniversary of the State of Israel,” Herzog said before the trip.