WASHINGTON, June 26 (UPI) -- Israeli President Shimon Peres was awarded the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal in a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday.
It was the 90-year-old's last visit to the U.S. as president. He is set to retire next month after completing his seven-year term. During his tenure as president and earlier as foreign minister, defense minister, and twice as prime minister, Peres worked with 10 U.S. presidents.
Speaking in the Capitol Rotunda on Wednesday, Peres said "In one month, I will end my term as Israel's ninth President. But I will never give up on the struggle to achieve peace."
That struggle for peace, he said, is a collective endeavor. "America and Israel should continue to work together to advance peace. Wars can be waged alone. Peace calls for a collective effort."
"On behalf of all the people of Israel, I want to thank my friend and Israel's friend, President Barack Obama, for standing by our side with an unshakeable commitment to Israel's security. I want to thank each and every one of you, the American Congress, for your unwavering, bipartisan and generous support. Thank you for helping us weather so many storms, and for giving us confidence to face the future."
Peres expressed hope that Mideast peace talks will continue, calling Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas "clearly a partner for peace," and said he is optimistic peace can be forged.
"A bridge should be built to enable an Israeli peace initiative to meet the Arab peace initiative. I have lived long enough to see the impossible become possible. To skeptics, I can say: Believe me. Peace is the most possible impossibility."