U.S. President Barack Obama held talks with Israeli President Shimon Peres as he began his first official trip to the country on Wednesday (March 20th).

Shortly after landing in Tel Aviv, Obama's entourage flew by helicopter to Jerusalem and then drove to his city centre hotel.

Obama was hosted by Peres at his residence, where he was greeted by schoolchildren singing and waving flags of the two nations.

Obama reaffirmed Washington's strong ties with Israel.

"I re-affirmed to President Peres, as I will throughout my visit that in this work, the state of Israel will have no greater friend than United States," Obama said in a statement.

"And the work that we do in our time, it may get more likely, that the children that we saw today along-side children throughout the region have the opportunity for security and peace and prosperity," Obama said.

Israel's concerns over a nuclear-armed Iran have clouded its relations with the U.S.

Obama faces strong doubts among Israelis over his pledge to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran.

The U.S. president said last week he believed Iran was still more than a year away from developing an atomic weapon and is counselling nervous Israelis to show patience, vowing to use all options to stop a nuclear-armed Tehran.

Peres mentioned concerns over Iran, but said Israel trusted Washington on the issue.

"The greatest danger is a nuclear Iran. So you said, so you do. We trust your policy which calls to first, try by non-military means with a clear statement that both other options remain on the table. You have made it clear that your intention is not to contain, but to prevent," Peres said in his statement.

Israel and the United States agree that Iran should never get a nuclear bomb, dismissing Tehran's assertion that its atomic programme is peaceful. However, the two allies are at odds over how fast the clock is ticking down on the need for preventative military action should diplomacy fail.