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US’ Pompeo to Israel: You have ‘special place in my heart’

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (L) meets Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) in Tel Aviv, Israel on 29 April 2018 [Haim Zach/Anadolu Agency]

Newly appointed US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that his country occupies “a special place in my heart”.

In a meeting during Pompeo’s first trip to Tel Aviv yesterday, Netanyahu greeted the American official saying: “We are very proud of the fact that this is your first visit as Secretary of State.”

Pompeo replied: “You’re an incredibly important partner [and] occupy a special place in my heart too.”

After their meeting, Netanyahu told Pompeo: “It is your first visit to Israel as Secretary of State. I think it’s significant that you chose, as did the President, to include Israel on this important itinerary. I think it’s symbolic of our friendship, which is deep and getting even deeper and stronger.”

He added: “You’re a true friend of Israel, a true friend of the Jewish people. And I look forward to working with you in your new role.”

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Netanyahu also said: “I want to thank again President Trump for his historic decision on recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.”

Pompeo said: “We are incredibly proud to be opening the new embassy on May 14th.”

“This step comes as Israel celebrates its 70th anniversary of independence, and 70 years of recognition and steadfast support for Israel from the American people as well. By recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the seat of its government, we’re recognising reality,” the official said in reference to Nakba Day when nearly one million Palestinians were forced to flee their homes before the creation of the state of Israel.

He also said: “Many of our conversations centred on Iran. Strong cooperation with close allies like you is critical to our efforts to counter Iran’s destabilising and malign activity throughout the Middle East, and indeed throughout the world.”

“We remain deeply concerned about Iran’s dangerous escalation of threats to Israel and the region, and Iran’s ambition to dominate the Middle East remains. The United States is with Israel in this fight, and we strongly support Israel’s sovereign right to defend itself.”

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