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The U.S.-Israel Relationship Is Strong, Obama And Netanyahu Say

Following a one-on-one conversation in the Oval Office, President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters that Israel and the United States continue to enjoy a strong, healthy relationship.

Paraphrasing Mark Twain, Netanyahu said that "reports about the demise of the special United States-Israel relationship aren't just premature, they're flat wrong."

"There is a depth and richness to this relationship that is expressed every day," he added, noting that representatives from both administrations talk to each other often, cooperating behind the scenes.

Today's discussion, which both leaders characterized as "excellent," was wide-ranging. Obama and Netanyahu talked about Gaza, Iran, intelligence and security issues, and the prospects for peace in the Middle East.

In his remarks, the president highlighted new sanctions, passed by the United Nations Security Council, which he called "the toughest sanctions ever directed at an Iranian government." Obama also pointed to new U.S. sanctions, which he signed into law last week.

Netanyahu said that "the greatest new threat on the horizon, the single most dominant issue for many of us, is the prospect that Iran would acquire nuclear weapons."

The president said Netanyahu "wants peace, he's willing to take risks for peace, and he once again reaffirmed his willingness to engage in serious negotiations with the Palestinians."

Obama said he and the prime minister agreed that a two-state solution, with a sustained, secure peace.

"We're committed to that peace," he said. "I'm committed to that peace. And this peace will beter the lives of Israelis, of Palestinians, and it certainly would change our region."

In closing, Netanyhu thanked Obama for reaffirming his commitment to Israel, and invited the president to visit him there.

"I'm ready," Obama said.

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