Israel PM to be invited to White House next week: Reports
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Last Updated: Wednesday, May 26, 2010, 18:07
Jerusalem: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was expected to receive an invitation Wednesday to visit Washington next week, press reports said, ahead of talks in Jerusalem with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

The invitation, to be handed over by Emanuel who is on a private visit to Israel, is expected to propose a meeting with US President Barack Obama.

"Netanyahu and Rahm Emanuel will meet on Wednesday at 5:00 pm (local time) at the prime minister's office in Jerusalem," a statement from the premier's office said.

The two men will hold an "informal discussion" about a broad range of US-Israeli issues, a White House spokesman has said.

Tomorrow, Netanyahu is to leave for France, where he will formally accept an invitation for Israel to join the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, a Paris-based group of 30 developed world nations, before heading to Canada.

The Washington leg is likely to be tacked onto the end of the trip.

The offer to meet Obama is widely viewed as a US attempt to mend ties with Israel following an ugly spat over Jewish settlement activity in Jerusalem which erupted in March.

"In the course of the meeting, he (Emanuel) is expected to invite Netanyahu for a meeting with the US president in Washington at the beginning of next week, after the Israeli prime minister's visit to Canada," the mass-selling Yediot Aharonot daily said.

"The invitation is supposed to signal that the White House and Obama are interested in turning over a new leaf in their relations with Israel," the paper added.

The visit will come ahead of a similar trip by Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas, who is expected to meet Obama at some point in June, although a date has yet to be set.

Quoting unnamed Israeli officials, the Haaretz daily said Obama wanted to meet Netanyahu before Abbas to head off criticism from congressmen and US Jewish leaders.

"The White House feared the upcoming meeting with Abbas -- meant to show Obama's support for the Palestinian leader -- would draw unfavourable comparisons with the disastrous March meeting with Netanyahu, thereby deepening the crisis with Israel -- and sparking more criticism of Obama's Israel policy," the paper said.


First Published: Wednesday, May 26, 2010, 18:07

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