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Cheney says Israel has right to defend itself

JERUSALEM — Vice President Dick Cheney said Saturday the United States has an "enduring and unshakable" commitment to Israel's security and its right to defend itself against those bent on destroying the Jewish state.

At the start of a weekend of talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, Cheney also said the Bush administration wants to see a "new beginning" for the Palestinian people and is committed to pursuing a Mideast peace deal.

Cheney's visit is part of the U.S. strategy to keep the pressure on the two sides, despite recent bloodshed, to agree on a framework for peace before President Bush leaves office in January.

"America's commitment to Israel's security is enduring and unshakable, as is our commitment to Israel's right to defend itself always against terrorism, rocket attacks and other threats from forces dedicated to Israel's destruction," Cheney told reporters before an evening meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Cheney mentioned parts of the Middle East where the United States says efforts are under way to foment violence and undermine stability in the region.

"As we continue to work to peace, we must not and will not ignore the darkening shadows of the situations in Gaza, in Lebanon, in Syria and in Iran and the forces there that are working to derail the hopes of the world," Cheney said.

Olmert said Israel, too, is worried about Iran and is "anxious to carry on" negotiations with the Palestinians. His government is watching "the behavior of Syria and the Hezbollah" and shares concerns with the United States about attacks from Gaza against Israeli civilians.

Cheney planned to attend an Easter service today in Jerusalem, then go to Ramallah in the West Bank for talks with the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas.

.Fast facts

Energy talks with Saudis

On Saturday, Vice President Dick Cheney completed a two-day stay in Saudi Arabia during which he discussed ways to stabilize the energy market with King Abdullah. On Friday, Cheney met the Saudi minister of petroleum, but it is unclear whether he asked for increased oil production to hold down gasoline prices.

President Bush had urged the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to increase production during his trip to Saudi Arabia in January, but oil-producing nations ignored Bush's request. The White House said that it disagreed with OPEC's decision to rebuff that request, and that the oil-producing nations themselves could be hurt by high gas prices.

Cheney says Israel has right to defend itself 03/22/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 9:46am]
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