Clinton holds talks with Israeli leaders

Egypt's transition and Iran's nuclear programme on agenda as secretary of state makes her first trip in two years.

    Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, has met President Shimon Peres and other top officials in Israel, discussing Iran's nuclear ambitions and other regional issues, including Egypt and Syria.

    Speaking in a press conference in Jerusalem on Monday, Clinton said: "It is a time of uncertainty but also of opportunity.

    "It is a chance to advance our shared goals of security, stability, peace and democracy along with prosperity for the millions of people in this region who have yet to see a better future."

    Peres said that Israel was "very much interested in keeping the peace with the largest Arab country, Egypt."

    On Iran, Peres said that Israel will "prevent Iran from endangering the freedom and independence of other people."

    "I hope that it won't take a long time before Iran will return to her culture and tradition and be a free nation among free nations that nobody threatens her and she shouldn't threaten anybody else," he said.

    Clinton also met Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Defence Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

    Egypt transition

    Making her first trip to Israel in 22 months, and only her fourth visit as secretary of state, Clinton's talks focused first and foremost on the political transition in Egypt, where newly-elected President Mohamed Morsi took office two weeks ago.

    The ouster of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak last year has raised questions among Israelis about whether Egypt, the first Arab nation to have made peace with Israel, will adhere to that treaty under the new democratic government.

    Clinton flew to Israel from Egypt, where she held talks on Saturday with Morsi, a former Muslim Brotherhood leader, who told her Egypt will respect its international treaties.

    She also saw Field Marshall Hussein Tantawi, head of the military council that took over after Mubarak was toppled, and is in power struggle with Morsi.

    During her visit, Clinton urged Morsi to "assert the full authority" of his office and said the military should return to a "purely national security role".

    Clinton's discussions with Morsi on Saturday focused on the domestic political deadlock and economic development. She pledged hundreds of millions of dollars in debt relief, private investment and job creation funds - money the US administration had earlier promised.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and Agencies


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