Biden says diplomacy is still the best way to keep Iran from getting nuclear weapons, despite Israel’s skepticism.

“This is a vital security interest for both Israel and the United States, and I would add the rest of the world,” Biden said at a news conference in Jerusalem, standing next to Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid.

He added: “I still believe that diplomacy is the best way to achieve this result. We will continue to work with Israel to counter other threats from Iran throughout the region, including continued support for terrorism and ballistic missiles, and the distribution of weapons to terrorists and proxies such as Hezbollah.

The President said he would convey this message to the Saudi leadership when he traveled to Saudi Arabia on Friday and said: “Regarding Iran and the belief of the Saudis and others that we mean what we say, we mean what we’re talking about.”

Biden has been pushing to revive the Iran nuclear deal that former President Donald Trump withdrew the US from in 2018 as he faces mounting pressure from key allies in the Middle East to develop a plan to contain Iran. Biden’s masters in Israel oppose a new nuclear deal with Iran, and the previous version of the deal was unpopular in that country.

But hopes that the deal will materialize appear to be fading, and the president acknowledged on Thursday that the US “is not going to wait forever” for a response from the Iranian leadership.

Standing next to Biden at a press conference, Lapid dismissed another nuclear deal as a means to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

“Words will not stop them, Mr. President. Diplomacy won’t stop them. The only thing that will stop Iran is the knowledge that if they continue to develop their nuclear program, the free world will use force. The only way to stop them is to put a real military threat on the table,” Lapid said.

Biden said in an interview with Israeli News Channel 12 broadcast on Wednesday that he would use force “as a last resort” to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, but did not elaborate on what that meant.

Iran was the main topic of discussion during Biden and Lapid’s bilateral meeting on Thursday, and on Thursday the two leaders signed a new joint declaration aimed at expanding security relations between their countries and countering what they called Iran’s efforts to destabilize the region. The President reaffirmed the “iron commitment” of the United States to Israel’s security.

The President expressed support for the Abraham Accords, one of Trump’s achievements that normalized relations between Israel and several Arab countries and contributed to growing Arab-Israeli security and economic ties. He also stressed US support for expanding Israel’s integration into the region, a major theme of Biden’s four-day trip to the Middle East.

Biden also reaffirmed his support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict during a press conference.

“Israel must remain an independent, democratic Jewish state, the ultimate guarantee and guarantor of the security of the Jewish people, not only in Israel, but throughout the world. I believe in it to the core,” Biden said.

He continued: “And the best way to achieve this remains the decision to create two states for two people, each of whom has deep and ancient roots in this land, living side by side in peace and security. Both states fully respect equal rights. their citizens as people enjoying an equal degree of freedom, and anything that takes us further away from that outcome, I believe that everything is detrimental to Israel’s long-term security.”

The US and Israel on Thursday also launched a new high-level strategic dialogue on technology, which officials say is designed to increase cooperation between the two countries on pandemic preparedness, climate technology, artificial technology and other robust technology ecosystems.

The President on Thursday also took part in the first virtual meeting of the leaders of the I2U2 group, which also includes Israel, India and the United Arab Emirates. Biden said ahead of the meeting that the focus of Thursday’s meeting was food security, as well as the promotion of clean energy.

The UAE has announced that it will invest $2 billion in agricultural parks in India to tackle the food security crisis.

“This unique group of countries is committed to harnessing the energy of our societies and entrepreneurial spirit to address some of the biggest challenges facing our world, with a particular focus on joint investment and new initiatives in the areas of water, energy, transport, space, health and food security.” , the leaders of India, Israel, the United Arab Emirates and the United States said in a joint statement.

Biden met with Israeli President Isaac Herzog at his residence to discuss Duke’s diplomatic efforts to further integrate Israel into the region, officials said.

Herzog presented Biden with the Israeli Presidential Medal of Honor, and Biden said the award was “one of the greatest honors of my career.”

The President will then meet with former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The two leaders’ relationship, spanning nearly four decades, began when Biden was a junior senator. However, the relationship between the two men was not always smooth sailing. Netanyahu made no secret of his disdain for former President Barack Obama—the feeling was apparently mutual—and Biden was deeply embarrassed when his 2010 visit to Israel as vice president coincided with an Israeli government statement endorsing the plans. new government. settlement houses.

“They are certainly many years old and know each other well. And during this visit, it is clear to us that the relationship between the United States and Israel is about countries, our strategic partnership as two states, not individual leaders. “, one of the officials said.

Biden also met with American athletes participating in the Maccabiah Games, an international Jewish-Israeli multi-sport event, and watched part of the opening ceremony.

This story was updated with additional events on Thursday.

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