Trump arrives in Israel kicking off busy schedule for peace bid

Source: Xinhua| 2017-05-22 19:17:12|Editor: ying


U.S. President Donald Trump (R) and First Lady Melania Trump walk out of the Air Force One at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel, on May 22, 2017. Trump has arrived in Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, kicking off his second leg of the Middle East visit in Israel and Palestine. (Xinhua/Gil Cohen Magen)

TEL AVIV, Israel, May 22 (Xinhua) - U.S. President Donald Trump landed in Tel Aviv on Monday, kicking off the second leg of his Middle East visit in Israel and the West Bank.

The presidential Air Force One plane touched the ground at the Ben Gurion Airport outside Tel Aviv just after noon, where Trump was accepted in an official ceremony with fanfares and an Israel Defense Forces soldiers' honorary guard.

The welcoming ceremony was also attended by President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, cabinet ministers and senior Jewish, Muslims as well as Christian clergies.

In a short statement session at the airport, Trump gave a speech, saying his visit to Saudi Arabia gave him "new reasons for hope" for peace in the Middle East.

"Let us build together a future where the nations of the region are at peace, and all our children can grow up strong and free from terrorism and violence," he said.

Trump arrived in Israel after concluding Saudi visit, where he met Sunday with King Salman and Muslim leaders. "In that visit, we reached a historic agreement to pursue greater and greater [cooperation] against terrorism," he said.

"We have before us a rare opportunity to bring security and stability and peace to this region and its people, defeating terrorism and creating a future of harmony prosperity and peace," he added.

"But we can only get there working together. There is no other way," he said, addressing the Israeli leaders.

Trump praised the "unbreakable bond" between Israel and the U.S. "We love Israel, we respect Israel," he said.

Netanyahu said he hopes the "remarkable alliance between Israel and the United States will become ever greater, ever stronger" under Trump's term in office.

He warmly welcomed Trump, saying: "on behalf of the government and the entire people of Israel, we welcome you to Israel. May God bless you, Mr. President, may God bless Israel, and may God bless the United States of America."

From the airport, Trump is expected to continue to Jerusalem, where he will meet with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin at the President's Residence in Jerusalem.

His Monday itinerary includes a visit to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in annexed East Jerusalem's Old City, from which he will continue by foot to the Western Wall, a nearby Jewish holy site, where he will be the first U.S. president to visit the site.

On Tuesday, Trump will go to Bethlehem to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Also on Tuesday, Trump is scheduled to give a speech at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem to conclude his visit, before heading to Europe.

Trump's first official visit will focus on reaffirming the alliance with Israel and his administration's efforts to revive the long-stalled peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

The last round of talks reached an impasse on April 2014, mainly over Israel's refusal to halt the construction in the West Bank settlements.

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