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Ariel Sharon / Oded Balilty, AP

Vice President Biden will lead an American delegation to the state funeral for former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, who died Saturday.

"Jill and I were saddened to hear of the passing of Ariel Sharon," Biden said in a statement. "We send our condolences to his family and to his beloved nation of Israel."

Other members of the delegation,as announced by the White House: U.S. ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro; Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y.; Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla.; and former ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer.

"I look forward to leading the U.S. delegation to his memorial service, to pay respects to the man and to pay tribute to the unshakable partnership between the United States and Israel," Biden said.

The delegation left Washington on Sunday.

In his tribute statement, President Obama said:

"On behalf of the American people, Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to the family of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and to the people of Israel 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.

"We continue to strive for lasting peace and security for the people of Israel, 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."



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: Biden to lead delegation to Sharon service

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