Special report: Palestine-Israel Relations
United States President George W. Bush speaks in an arrival ceremony at Ben-Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel, May 14, 2008. U.S. President Bush arrived here Wednesday morning, starting his three-day visit to Israel.(Xinhua Photo)
TEL AVIV, Israel, May 14 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President
George W. Bush arrived in Israel on Wednesday, starting his three-day visit to
the Jewish state on the occasion of its 60th anniversary.
The U.S. president was greeted at Ben-Gurion
international airport by the Israeli leadership, including Prime Minister Ehud
Olmert, President Shimon Peres and opposition leader Member of Knesset
(parliament) Benjamin Netanyahu.
Upon his arrival, the U.S. president said that "Israel and the United States have an enduring alliance that confronts terrorists."
United States President George W. Bush (3rd L, front) and first lady Laura Bush (4th L, front) are welcomed by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (5th L, front) in an arrival ceremony at Ben-Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel, May 14, 2008. U.S. President Bush arrived here Wednesday morning, starting his three-day visit to Israel. (Xinhua Photo)
In comments at the airport, both Peres and Olmert
warmly praised Bush for strengthening the long-standing ties between Israel and
the United States, which were called by Olmert as "one of Israel's pillars of
Peres thanked Bush for "gracing this occasion (of the
60th anniversary)" while praising him for his "steady dedication for the
promotion of peace and security."
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, part of
Bush's entourage, accompanied the U.S. leader as he walked across the airport
runway, as did Bush's wife Laura.
The president is to fly by helicopter from the
Ben-Gurion airport to Jerusalem for Wednesday and Thursday's events marking the
60th anniversary of the founding of Israel. Bush also will visit Saudi Arabia
and Egypt during his five-day visit in the region.
It is Bush's second visit to Israel in four months.
The U.S. president visited Israel in January for the first time in his seven
years' tenure, in a bid to advance peace talks between Israel and the
Palestinians in the wake of the Annapolis Summit held in November.
During his current visit, Bush is to hold talks with
Olmert, who is now facing investigations on alleged bribery charges and
President Peres as well as other senior officials, including Foreign Minister
Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
Bush will attend an international conference hosted
by Peres to mark Israel's 60th anniversary.
He is also expected to deliver a speech at a special
session of the Knesset (parliament).