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Obama begins first official trip to Israel

Oliver Weiken / EPA

Left to right, Israeli President Shimon Peres, President Barack Obama, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stand during the welcoming ceremony at Ben Gurion airport, Tel Aviv, on March 20. Air Force One touched down at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport, marking the start of Obama's first visit to Israel.

Sebastian Scheiner / AP

President Barack Obama, center, shakes hands with Israeli children as he is welcomed by Israeli President Shimon Peres, right, in Jerusalem, on March 20.

Jason Reed / Reuters

President Barack Obama and Israel's President Shimon Peres plant a magnolia tree from the White House, at Peres' residence in Jerusalem, on March 20.

Jason Reed / Reuters

President Barack Obama, left, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu view an Iron Dome missile defense battery at Ben Gurion International Airport Airport in Tel Aviv, on March 20. Obama said at the start of his first official visit to Israel on Wednesday that the U.S. commitment to the security of the Jewish state was rock solid and that peace must come to the Holy Land.

Uriel Sinai / Getty Images

U.S. Army helicopters escort President Barack Obama's Marine One helicopter (not seen), as it departs from Ben Gurion Airport on March 20, near Tel Aviv.

Jason Reed / Reuters

President Barack Obama walks in the garden of Israel's President Shimon Peres, left, in Jerusalem on March 20.

By Alastair Jamieson and Ian Johnston, NBC News

Israel has "no greater friend than the United States," President Barack Obama said Wednesday on his first state trip to the country.

During his visit, Obama is expected to discuss Iran's disputed nuclear program and the crisis in Syria, and will also meet Palestinian officials in the West Bank on Thursday, but little progress on the peace process is expected.

Standing alongside Israel’s President Shimon Peres following a private bilateral meeting, Obama said the two countries' joint efforts were important in securing peace for future generations. Read the full story.

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