The Israeli soldier who was freed last week after five years in the captivity of Hamas has thanked President Shimon Peres for the support he gave the family.
Gilad Shalit and his parents met the president at their home in northern Israel today, six days after he returned to Israeli soil for the first time since June 2006.
Mr Peres told the soldier, who turned 25 while he was in captivity, that he could "do and achieve now and in the future anything you want."
He described Sergeant Shalit as "strong and courageous" and asked him where he got his "wonderful spirit".
"Your homecoming is an exceptional personal and national occurrence. I know that your time in captivity required great mental strength and I came to express my pride and the nation's pride on your ability to deal with the tough conditions of captivity."
Mr Shalit thanked President Peres for supporting his parents as they campaigned tirelessly for their son's safe return.