Israeli President Shimon Peres had a farewell meeting with President Barack Obama today before he leaves office next month.
The two leaders had lunch at the White House, joined by Vice President Joe Biden, followed by a closed door meeting that was expected to cover terrorism, the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks that collapsed in April, and Iran’s nuclear program.
While Obama’s relationship with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been marked by tension, Peres has expressed his confidence in Obama. During a trip to Israel last year, Peres called Obama “a true friend” of Israel whose vision “can transform the Middle East.”
Peres, 90, will be succeeded by 74-year-old Reuven Rivlin, a former speaker of parliament and an opponent of Palestinian, in the largely ceremonial post.
In an interview with the Washington Post published today, Peres, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 for his role in the first Israeli-Palestinian peace accord, said he’s worked for four decades with 10 U.S. presidents to reach a peace deal with the Palestinians. A deal remains elusive.
“I am leaving the office, but I am not leaving the battle for peace,” Peres said in the interview, which was conducted on June 23.
Peres said that he’ll urge the U.S., once again, to release Jonathan Pollard, the American Jewish intelligence analyst who pleaded guilty to spying for Israel. Pollard received a life sentence in 1987 and under certain conditions could be released in November 2015.
While at the White House, Obama and Peres also dropped by a meeting with American Jewish community leaders. Peres was also scheduled to be awarded a Congressional Gold Medal while in the U.S.