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Israel PM, Obama to discuss Iran, Syria, Palestinians
Published Sunday 10/02/2013 (updated) 12/02/2013 12:41
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JERUSALEM (Reuters) -- Iran's nuclear ambitions, the civil war in Syria and stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts will top the agenda of US President Barack Obama's visit to Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday.

"It is a very important visit that will emphasize the strong alliance between Israel and the United States," Netanyahu, who has had a testy relationship with Obama, told his cabinet.

The White House announced on Tuesday that Obama plans to visit Israel, the West Bank and Jordan this spring, raising prospects of a new US push to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts frozen for the past two years.

The White House gave no exact dates for the trip, Obama's first to Israel since taking office. Israel's Channel 10 television station cited unnamed sources in Washington last week saying the visit to Israel would start on March 20.

In public remarks at the cabinet session, Netanyahu put Iran at the top of his list of talking points with Obama and referred only in general terms to peace efforts with the Palestinians, stopping short of setting a revival of bilateral negotiations as a specific goal of the visit.

"The president and I spoke about this visit and agreed that we would discuss three main issues ... Iran's attempt to arm itself with nuclear weapons, the unstable situation in Syria ... and the efforts to advance the diplomatic process of peace between the Palestinians and us," Netanyahu said.

US-hosted negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians collapsed in September 2010 in a dispute over Israeli settlement-building in the occupied West Bank.

Obama and Netanyahu discussed the coming trip in a Jan. 28 telephone call.

Coalition talks

The visit will take place only after Netanyahu puts together a new governing coalition following his narrower-than-expected victory in Israel's Jan. 22 election.

Netanyahu, who heads the right-wing Likud party, has begun talks with prospective political partners and still has up to five weeks to complete the process.

Citing the dangers Israel faces from the "earthquake that is happening around us", a reference to Arab upheaval in the region and the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran, Netanyahu said Obama's visit now was particularly important.

Obama's tensions with Netanyahu have been aggravated by the Israeli leader's demands for US "red lines" on Iran's nuclear program - something the president has resisted, though he has said military options are on the table if sanctions and diplomacy fail.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Sunday that Tehran would not negotiate about its nuclear program under pressure, and would talk to its adversaries only if they stopped "pointing the gun".

Iran dismisses Western suspicions that its nuclear program is aimed at building weapons. Israel is widely believed to have the Middle East's only nuclear arsenal.

Netanyahu has insisted he will stick to the red line laid down in September, when he told the United Nations that Iran should not have enough enriched uranium to make even a single warhead.

He gave a rough deadline of summer 2013, and Israeli political commentators have speculated that Obama had opted to visit Israel before that date to caution Netanyahu against any go-it-alone attack against Iran's nuclear facilities.

Obama visited Israel as a presidential candidate in 2008 but drew Republican criticism for not traveling there in his first term. His Republican predecessor, former President George W. Bush, also waited until his second term to go to Israel.
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1 ) Joe Fattal / USA
11/02/2013 01:18
Natenyahu probably can't read between the lines. Obama care less about him. I remember when the French President and Obama were caught speaking on the mike, one said " I do not trust him, and Obama said, "How about me I have to deal with him every day". So for Mr. Natenyahu to give a good impression to President Obama he has to come out with something spectacular, like maybe stopping building settlements or and lift the Gaza blockade, only than he might have a friend.

2 ) Mel / USA
11/02/2013 19:08
Maan?If you're selectively not posting our informed,correct posts,then just remind Obama,before he opens our White House to MORE Zionist terrorists,of the 1st terrorism in Palestine,committed by Zionist Stern,Irgun,"cells"like Begin,Shamir&radical Jabotinsk-ists.When U recall 9/11,Obama,recall 2,Zio-attacks on the King David Hotel&massacres thereafter,by Israel?Cause=Nazi Zionism.Tool=US-proxy POWER abuse.Effect=Arab RETALIATION 2 Israeli threat. http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=9a5_1262370123

3 ) Robert / US
12/02/2013 11:46
How about discussing Illegal settlements & violence
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