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Obama To AIPAC: Israel's Security 'Non-Negotiable'

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE PRESIDENTIAL MARCH)

MARTIN: Today, President Barack Obama took the stage before thousands of pro-Israel activists here in Washington for the annual gathering of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC. His address to that influential lobbying group comes at a crucial time for Israel, with a looming nuclear threat in Iran and a violent conflict in neighboring Syria. It's against that backdrop that Mr. Obama reaffirms support for Israel and its security concerns.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Four years ago, I stood before you and said that Israel's is sacrosanct. It is non-negotiable. That belief has guided my actions as president. The fact is, my administration's commitment to Israel's security has been unprecedented. Our military and intelligence cooperation has never been closer.

MARTIN: In the speech, the president also focused on Iran's drive toward developing nuclear weapons and the danger that poses to Israel.

OBAMA: Iran's leaders should understand that I do not have a policy of containment. I have a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: And as I have made clear time and again during the course of my presidency, I will not hesitate to use force when it is necessary to defend the United States and its interests.

MARTIN: Tomorrow, Mr. Obama will meet at the White House with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regarding the growing tensions between Israel and Iran. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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