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Israel: Obama Declares Shared Vision Of Peace
Barack Obama has paid respects to victims of the Holocaust and reaffirmed Israel's right to exist at the end of a three-day visit to the country.
The US President laid wreaths at the graves of former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and modern-Zionism founder Theodor Herzl, a symbolic visit that acknowledged the rationale for Israel's existence rests with its historical ties to the region.
Mr Obama was criticised in 2009 for a speech he made in Cairo in which he gave the Holocaust as the reason for justifying Israel's existence.
The President donned a skullcap while paying a sombre visit to the Hall of Names chamber at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial.
The circular room is lined with photographs documenting some 600 victims of the Holocaust. "Nothing could be more powerful," said the President.
Accompanied by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres, Mr Obama declared the memorial illustrated the "depths to which humanity can sink".
But he also claimed the monument serves as a reminder of the "righteous among nations who refused to be bystanders."
As the President approached Herzl's resting place he bowed his head before turning briefly to ask Mr Netanyahu where to place a small stone in the Jewish custom, before laying the stone atop the grave.
"It is humbling and inspiring to visit and remember the visionary who began the remarkable establishment of the State of Israel," Mr Obama wrote in the Mount Herzl guestbook.
"May our two countries possess the same vision and will to secure peace and prosperity for future generations."
At Yad Vashem, Mr Obama donned a skull cap and was accompanied by Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, a survivor of the Buchenwald Concentration camp who lost both parents in the Holocaust.
At Yitzhak Rabin's grave he was greeted by members of Rabin's family. In a symbolic gesture, the stone he placed on Rabin's grave was from the grounds of the Martin Luther King memorial in Washington.
Rabin, Mr Obama told family members, was "a great man."
The President will later travel to Jordan for talks with King Abdullah II. The Syrian civil war and Jordan's struggle to cope with the influx of half-a-million Syrian refugees will be among the topics discussed.
Palestinian leaders have accused Mr Obama of letting Israel ride rough-shod over their dream of statehood and King Abdullah has voiced fears that extremists could create a regional base in Jordan.
Before leaving for Jordan the President was to tour the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
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