-- President Obama is set to travel to Israel to lead the U.S. delegation attending the funeral services Friday for former Israeli President Shimon Peres, the White House announced Wednesday.
The president departs Thursday and will return to the United States after the services.
In a statement late Tuesday evening, President Obama called Peres his "friend," who worked tirelessly over decades to strengthen the alliance between the United States and Israel.
He also hailed Peres' work in pursuit of peace between the Israeli and Palestinian people, and said there would be "no greater tribute to his life than to renew our commitment to the peace that we know is possible."
Obama honored Peres with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012.