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Obama to visit Palestine, Israel in spring

Feb. 5, 2013 8:24 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 7, 2013 1:19 P.M.)
TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma'an) -- US President Barack Obama will visit the region in March to restart the Middle East peace process, an Israeli television station reported Tuesday.

Channel 10 reported that aides to the American leader were in the region preparing for a March 20 visit that would include cities in Israel as well as the occupied West Bank.

The report quoted political sources as saying Obama’s trip will come after the new Israeli coalition government is sworn in. He will try to push forward peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

Meanwhile White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters that Obama planned to visit the West Bank and Jordan as part of the upcoming trip to the Middle East.

Earlier, Carney confirmed Obama would travel to Israel in the spring, his first trip to the country since taking office, but dates for the trip were not released. Obama will meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian and Jordanian leaders during the tour, Carney said.

A White House official told Reuters that Obama and Netanyahu discussed the matter in a telephone call on Jan. 28.

"The start of the president's second term and the formation of a new Israeli government offer the opportunity to reaffirm the deep and enduring bonds between the United States and Israel and to discuss the way forward on a broad range of issues of mutual concern, including Iran and Syria," the official said.

"Additional details about the trip -- including the dates of travel -- will be released at a later time."
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