• otv

Jerusalem: US President Donald Trump on Monday kicked off his Israel visit with a short speech in front of Air Force One at Tel Aviv airport, saying there was now a "rare opportunity ahead to bring peace and stability to the region".

Trump was speaking alongside Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from a podium near the runway, following a flight from Saudi Arabia, where he urged Arab and Islamic leaders to unite and "drive out" terrorists while toning down his own harsh rhetoric about Muslims.

Speaking on the tarmac at Ben Gurion Airport, Trump said he had come to "this sacred and ancient land to reaffirm the unbreakable bond between the US and Israel".

Trump said he was "deeply grateful" for the invitation to visit Israel, and "very, very honoured" to be there, CNN reported.

"We have before us a rare opportunity to bring safety and security to this region," he said, but "we can only get there working together -- there is no other way."

Speaking earlier, Netanyahu welcomed Trump on what he called a "truly historic" visit, which he viewed as a "powerful expression of your friendship".

Netanyahu gave his support to Trump's call for nations to do more to fight terrorism during his visit to Saudi Arabia at the weekend.

"Israel shares the commitment to peace that you made yesterday," he said. "The peace we seek is genuine and durable, in which the Jewish state is recognised, security remains in Israel's hands, and the conflict ends once and for all."

"I hope this trip is a step on the path toward reconciliation and peace," the Israeli Prime Minister said.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin hailed Trump's visit as a symbol of the "unbreakable bond between Israel and the US".

"The world needs a strong US. The Middle East needs a strong US. Israel needs a strong US," Rivlin said.

Other Stories