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In final trip as president, Rivlin heads to US to meet Biden, Pelosi

President’s visit will also include talks with executives of American Jewish groups, meetings at UN; before departing, he thanks US president for his support for Jewish state

Then-US vice president Joe Biden, right, poses for a photo with President Reuven Rivlin, left, during a meeting at the president's official residence in Jerusalem, March 9, 2016. (AP Photo/ Sebastian Scheiner)
Then-US vice president Joe Biden, right, poses for a photo with President Reuven Rivlin, left, during a meeting at the president's official residence in Jerusalem, March 9, 2016. (AP Photo/ Sebastian Scheiner)

President Reuven Rivlin departed Saturday night for the United States where he’ll meet President Joe Biden along with senior figures in Congress and top officials at the United Nations in his final foreign visit as head of state.

Before taking off from Ben Gurion International Airport, Rivlin told reporters, “I am departing, for the last time as president and on behalf of the State of Israel, on a farewell visit to Israel’s closest ally and friend in the world — the United States of America.”

“On my visit I will meet President Joe Biden, a true friend of the State of Israel for many years and I will thank him for his genuine concern for Israel’s security and its citizens,” he continued. “I will also hold meetings at the UN to discuss regional issues on our agenda and meet the American Jewish community which is so dear to our hearts.”

Rivlin will land in New York on Sunday morning and will hold a meeting that evening with executives of major Jewish organizations in Manhattan along with Israel’s Ambassador to the US and UN Gilad Erdan.

On Monday morning, he will depart for Washington where he will meet with Biden in the Oval Office. He will then head to Capitol Hill for a meeting with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi along with other Congressional leaders from both parties.

Rivlin will return to New York on Monday evening and on Tuesday hold additional meetings at the UN with Secretary General Antonio Guterres and several foreign ambassadors.

President Reuven RIvlin (R) with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, August 28, 2017. (Mark Neiman/GPO)

He will depart back to Israel on Tuesday evening, his office said.

On Thursday, he will spend the day with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his wife Elke Büdenbender who will be in Israel on an official state visit.

Prior to his trip to the US, Rivlin held meetings with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, coordinating his messaging to Washington with the leaders of the new government.

During talks at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, Rivlin and Bennett discussed the positions that Rivlin will present to Biden regarding key regional issues such as Iran and Israel’s objection to a US return to the 2015 nuclear deal, the Gaza Strip, and Syria.

Rivlin’s seven-year term as president is due to end on July 7, and the White House said the visit “will honor the dedication he has shown to strengthening the friendship between the two countries over the course of many years.”

The invitation to the US was extended last month by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, as the top American diplomat visited the region to help shore up a ceasefire that ended the 11-day war between Israel and terror groups in Gaza.

Rivlin, 81, will be succeeded by Jewish Agency chairman Isaac Herzog next month. Biden congratulated Herzog upon his election last month by the Knesset.

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