Monday, April 27
Latest News
  1. Bahrain again extends top rights activist's detention
  2. Kerry to meet Iran FM Zarif on Monday
  3. Dozens of Iraqi police killed during fierce clashes in Ramadi
  4. First Saudi National Guards reach Yemen border zone
  5. Israel charges soldiers over looting during Gaza war
  6. Israel invites bids for 77 East Jerusalem settler homes
  7. Deutsche Bank Q1 profits fall 50% over $2.5 bn rate fixing fine
  8. Witnesses: 2 protestors shot dead in Burundi capital
  9. Small groups of protestors, police clash in Burundi capital
  10. Clashes rage in Yemen as calls for peace talks grow
  11. EU AgenPolice arrest 26 across Europe in horsemeat scandal
  12. Home ministry: At least 114 killed in Nepal quake
  13. US: Russia failing to fully implement Ukraine ceasefire
  14. Kerry urges Yemen rebels and their allies to enter talks
  15. Ex-Yemen leader urges rebel allies to heed UN, pull back
  16. Iraq lacks DNA results to test body of 'Saddam deputy'
  17. Family: Syria's sacked political spy chief dead
  18. Officials: 14 Somali, Afghan immigrants killed by train in Macedonia
  19. UNICEF: At least 115 children killed in Yemen since March 26
  20. Athens stocks jump 4.4% on hopes of EU deal

Israel PM, Obama to discuss Iran, Syria, Palestinians

Feb. 10, 2013 2:12 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 12, 2013 12:41 P.M.)
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.
Ma'an News Agency
All rights reserved © 2005-2015