JERUSALEM: US Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday that the thoughts of the American people were with Israel and its comatose former leader Ariel Sharon, whose health was rapidly deteriorating.
"Our thoughts, my thoughts are with the Sharon family," Kerry said ahead of a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
"We remember his contributions, the sacrifices he made to ensure the survival and the wellbeing of Israel," he said. "All Americans are thinking of Israel and their former leader."
The top US diplomat arrived in the region on Thursday on a four-day visit, his 10th since taking office in March, in a bid to push peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians forward.
The health of Sharon, who has been in a comatose state for eight years, took a turn for the worse this week.
"In the last few days, we have seen a gradual decline in the functioning of Ariel Sharon's vital organs, which are essential for his survival," Zeev Rotstein, director of the Sheba hospital in Tel Hashomer, said on Thursday.
"His state is classed as critical, meaning his life is in danger," Rotstein said.
Rotstein's remarks were the first made by the hospital since Israeli media on Wednesday began reporting a serious deterioration in the health of 85-year-old former general Ariel "Arik" Sharon, long-time leader of the rightwing nationalist camp who suffered a massive stroke in 2006, slipping into a coma from which he has never recovered.