U.S. President Obama pauses during year-end news conference in the White House briefing room in Washington
Jonathan Ernst  /  REUTERS
President Barack Obama pauses during his his year-end news conference in the White House briefing room in Washington, December 20, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
updated 1/11/2014 11:01:46 AM ET 2014-01-11T16:01:46

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said on Saturday he joined Israelis in honoring the late Ariel Sharon's commitment to Israel and he affirmed traditional U.S. support for Israel's security.

In a statement, Obama said he and his wife, Michelle, send their deepest condolences to Sharon's family and to Israelis on "the loss of a leader who dedicated his life to the state of Israel".

"We reaffirm our unshakable commitment to Israel's security and our appreciation for the enduring friendship between our two countries and our two peoples," said Obama.

He also said the United States continues to strive for lasting peace and security for Israelis "including through our commitment to the goal of two states living side-by-side in peace and security".

"As Israel says goodbye to Prime Minister Sharon, we join with the Israeli people in honoring his commitment to his country," Obama said.

(Reporting By Steve Holland; Editing by Sophie Hares)

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