Tuesday 27 June 2017

Barack Obama praises Shimon Peres as 'The essence of Israel itself'

President Barack Obama awards Israeli President Shimon Peres with the Presidential Medal of Freedom at a dinner at the East Room of the White House in Washington in 2012. Photo: AP Photo/Susan Walsh
President Barack Obama awards Israeli President Shimon Peres with the Presidential Medal of Freedom at a dinner at the East Room of the White House in Washington in 2012. Photo: AP Photo/Susan Walsh
Pope Francis welcomes Israeli President Shimon Peres, right, upon his arrival at the Vatican in 2014. Israel's Foreign Ministry says a long list of world leaders will attend Shimon Peres' funeral on Friday. Spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said Wednesday that President Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Pope Francis, Prince Charles and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are all expected. Picture: AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca, File

Political leaders from around the world have paid tribute to Shimon Peres after the Israeli statesman died aged 93.

President Barack Obama praised Shimon Peres as a man whose commitment to Israel's security and the pursuit of peace "was rooted in his own unshakeable moral foundation and unflagging optimism".

Mr Obama said Mr Peres looked to the future "guided by a vision of the human dignity and progress that he knew people of goodwill could advance together".

He called him "the essence of Israel itself," noting that Mr Peres had fought for the nation's independence, worked its land and served in virtually every government position.

The president said that with the death of Mr Peres "a light has gone out, but the hope he gave us will burn forever".

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement of mourning for Mr Peres.

"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara express deep personal sorrow over the passing of the nation's beloved former president, Shimon Peres," the statement read.

"The prime minister will deliver a special address this morning and convene the cabinet for a mourning session."

Former US president George HW Bush said Mr Peres inspired the world and helped pave a path to peace.

He said he and his wife Barbara "join Shimon Peres' countless admirers around the world in saluting his singular life of service - to the universal cause of freedom, to the timeless cause of Israel, to the noblest cause of peace".

Mr Bush said Mr Peres "time and again helped guide his beloved country through the crucible of mortal challenge".

Conservative MP Maria Caulfield said she was "very sad to hear of the death of Shimon Peres. Condolences to his family and to the people of Israel".

Ms Caulfield has been on a trip to Israel where she visited the Gaza border.

Former President Bill Clinton and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton said: "With the passing of Shimon Peres, Israel has lost a leader who championed its security, prosperity, and limitless possibilities from its birth to his last day on earth.

"The Middle East has lost a fervent advocate for peace and reconciliation and for a future where all the children of Abraham build a better tomorrow together."

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of Australia said: "My wife Lucy had the honour of visiting Shimon Peres a few months ago, at the Peres Centre for Peace.

"He told her the secret of perpetual youth was to ensure that your list of dreams always remained longer than your list of achievements. On that test, Shimon Peres remained the youngest of leaders."

Press Association

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