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Pence at AIPAC: America stands with Israel today, tomorrow and always

Mike Pence at AIPAC
AFP
Nikky Haley, the US envoy to the UN, got sustained applause at the annual conference

US Vice President Mike Pence expressed America's unwavering support for Israel in a rousing speech at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference Monday, and vowed that the US would pull out of a nuclear agreement signed with Tehran and European allies come up with an accord to make it tougher.

"The United States of America will never allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons," Pence said. "Unless the Iran nuclear deal is fixed in the coming months, the United States will withdraw from the deal immediately."

Pence also said that the US would support Israel if ever attacked by Iran, promising that "dangerous provocations will not go unchecked."

Calling Trump "the most pro-Israel president in American history," Pence added: "I stand before you today on his behalf to convey a simple message: America stands with Israel today tomorrow and always."

Pence said that Trump's decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem was made "in the best interests of the United States" and also "in the best interests of peace."

"President Trump did more than promise – he delivered," the vice president said to roaring applause.

"We chose facts over fiction, and facts are the only foundation for a true and lasting peace. The United States remains fully committed to achieving a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians. If both sides agree, the United States of America will support a two-state solution," he said.

Pence added that while peace would "require compromise...the United States will never compromise the security of the state of Israel."

Elsewhere in Washington, Trump floated a fraught trip to open the new American embassy in Jerusalem as he hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House.

In remarks to the media from the Oval Office ahead of a closed-door meeting, Netanyahu waxed lyrical, painting Trump as the heir to a pantheon of historical figures and hailed the president's "bold" decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the disputed city of Jerusalem.

Netanyahu likened the US leader to the ancient Persian king Cyrus the Great, who freed the Jews from captivity in Babylon; to Lord Balfour, who a century ago affirmed the rights of the Jewish people in Palestine; and president Harry Truman, who recognized the Jewish state.

"I want to thank you for your extraordinary friendship," said the Israeli premier.

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The 71-year-old president responded with some lyrical waxing of his own, saying he would consider a trip to open the controversial embassy this May, when Israel celebrates 70 years since its declaration of independence.

"We're looking at coming. If I can, I will," Trump said. "I may. We will be talking about that and other things.

Nikky Haley, the US envoy to the UN, got sustained applause during her address at AIPAC when she announced she would attend the inauguration.

"At the UN and throughout the UN agencies, Israel does get bullied," she said, vowing to end such treatment.

As with his Oval Office meeting, Netanyahu during an appearance at AIPAC on Tuesday is expected to focus mainly on Iran as Israel's greatest enemy, and one he says seeks a permanent military presence in neighboring Syria.

The prime minister is also expected to call again for changes to, or the cancellation of, the nuclear accord between world powers and Iran.

AFP contributed to this report.

Read more:

Haley at AIPAC: We will not tolerate anti-Israel ‘bullying’

Netanyahu: 'No more than 15 minutes' of Trump talks spent on Palestinian issue

Ahead of Netanyahu meet, Trump says 'may' come to Jerusalem embassy opening

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