Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met on Wednesday afternoon as part of Bennett’s first full day of his visit to the United States, just a day before the Kabul terror attack.
Bennett sought to initiate a new spirit of cooperation between the two nations, different from the often contentious tone set by his predecessor, former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The two met inside the Willard Intercontinental Hotel, where Bennett and his entourage are staying, which is about a block from the White House.
Blinken arrived to meet the prime minister after a day full of briefings and statements on Afghanistan, which Bennett acknowledged.
“I appreciate you taking time in pretty hectic days here in the States. It means a lot,” Bennett said at the start of the meeting, according to a release by the Israeli Government Press Office. “Israel has no stronger and more reliable ally than the United States of America.
“From our inception and to this day, especially these days, you are always with us, you have our back and that matters a lot to us. I can assure you that you’ll find no friend more reliable and appreciative than us,” he told Blinken. “I bring from Israel a new spirit—a spirit of folks who sometimes harbor different opinions but work together in cooperation, in goodwill, in a spirit of unity and we work hard to find common things that we do agree upon and move forward on it. It seems to be working.”
The conversations continued as anticipated between the two leaders with preventing Iran from achieving nuclear capabilities and thwarting attempts to dominate the region through its influence being leading topics of conversation.
According to a readout of the meeting from U.S. State Department Spokesperson Ned Price, Blinken reiterated America’s commitment to Israel’s security and emphasized the strong bilateral relationship between the two countries.
Blinken also restated that America’s stance is that a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would advance the prospects for peace and deliver freedom, prosperity and dignity equally for Israelis and Palestinians.
According to the release, both leaders agreed on the importance of working towards including Israel in the Visa Waiver Program to benefit the citizens of both countries.
Earlier in the day, Bennett met with AIPAC CEO Howard Kohr and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. He also met with National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.
On Thursday, Bennett is expected to hold a bilateral meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden at the White House at 11:30 a.m., followed by an expanded bilateral meeting in the Oval Office at 11:55 a.m.