Obama vows peace on first visit to Israel as president
TEL AVIV (AFP) - "Peace must come to the Holy Land," Mr Barack Obama said on Wednesday as he landed in Israel for the first time as US president in a bid to ease tensions with his hosts and to frame policy on Syria and Iran.
Israeli leaders showered Mr Obama with personal praise for defending the Jewish state's security and existence, in a lavish welcome ceremony at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport at the start of a three-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories.
"Our alliance is eternal, it is for ever," Mr Obama declared on a bright morning after Air Force One rolled to a stop, warning that the tumultuous change sweeping the Middle East brought both promise and peril for Israel.
"It is in our fundamental national security interests to stand with Israel. It makes us both stronger," he said, launching a visit draped in symbolism but bringing little hope of progress towards Israeli-Palestinian peace.