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Obama Tells Netanyahu: U.S. Committed to Israel’s Security

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1 Apr 09 | Ha’aretz

U.S. President Barack Obama called newly sworn in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday to congratulate him on his new position, and to reaffirm steadfast U.S. commitment to Israel and its security.

“The president said he looked forward to working closely with Prime Minister Netanyahu and his government to address issues of mutual concern, including Iran and Arab-Israeli peace,” the White House said in a statement following the half-hour conversation.

The two agreed to work together closely on issues of mutual concern and to meet in the near future, Netanyahu’s office said in a statement.

Russian Prime Minister Vladmir Putin also called Netanyahu, and stressed his desire to strengthen ties with Israel and emphasized that it was important to advance peace and stability in the Middle East.

He invited the new prime minister to visit Moscow and said he hoped they would be able to meet soon. “You would be a welcome guest in Moscow,” he told the new premier.

The congratulatory calls came amid controversy stirred when Israel’s new ultranationalist foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, said Netanyahu’s Israel was not bound by commitments it made at a U.S.-sponsored conference to pursue creation of a Palestinian state.

A senior U.S. official said in response to the remarks that the Obama administration remains committed to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“It remains our view that a two-state solution, Israelis and Palestinians living side by side in peace and security, is in our interests and in the region’s interests,” the official, accompanying President Barack Obama to a G20 summit in London told Reuters. The official said, however, he had not yet seen Lieberman’s statement.

“We look forward to working with the new Israeli government and understand that we will have frank discussions,” said the spokesman.

Meanwhile, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday expressed hope that Israel’s new right-leaning government would continue to work on establishing an independent Palestinian state.

Ban “welcomes the formation of a new government in Israel and looks forward to working with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the full range of peace and security issues,” a statement issued by his spokeswoman Michele Montas said.

“This includes the resumption of the Middle East peace process, with the aim of achieving an independent and viable Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace with a secure Israel, and a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace,” Ban said.

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Written by Editors

1 April 2009 at 2:36 pm

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