Peres in NY before Meetings at Pentagon, White House
President Shimon Peres has arrived in New York, where he will spend the night before traveling to Washington on Monday for meetings at the Pentagon.
On Tuesday, the president is scheduled to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and others at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institute.
Wednesday the president is scheduled to meet with President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta as well as with other officials. On Thursday, Peres will be hosted by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren at a reception to be given at his Washington residence.
On the agenda throughout will be strengthening of the strategic ties between the U.S. and Israel, as well as the looming threat of the Iranian nuclear development program.
The president is also expected to update American officials on the galloping developments in the Middle East.
Obama is scheduled to award Peres the Presidential Medal of Freedom at a special dinner Wednesday evening, the White House had already announced last Friday.
"An ardent advocate for Israel's security and for peace, Shimon Peres was elected the ninth President of Israel in 2007,” the White House said in its statement announcing the award. “Through his life and work, he has strengthened the unbreakable bonds between Israel and the United States.”
First Lady Michelle Obama is also expected to attend. The Medal of Freedom, considered the highest civilian honor bestowed by a U.S. President, was also presented to Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel last June.
For his part, Peres has arrived in the U.S. bearing gifts for Obama and his wife as well.
For the American president, the Israeli leader has brought a collection of historic documents, including a letter from Chaim Weizmann urging President Harry Truman to recognize the nascent State of Israel, a short letter signed by Truman in which he recognized Israel's first government, and a letter from Israel's founding Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, thanking Truman for recognizing Israel's provisional government.
For the First Lady, Israel's president has brought a special necklace created by people with disabilities, produced from “uniquely Israeli materials.”