Barack Obama calls Israeli PM, discusses Mideast peace



Washington: US President Barack Obama has called up Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss the current security scenario in the region, the White House said.

"The two leaders discussed regional security issues and Middle East peace. They agreed to continue the close coordination between the United States and Israel on a range of security issues," the White House said on Wednesday.

This was the first telephonic conversation between the two leaders after the recent Israeli strike inside Syria.

Earlier in the day, the White House insisted that the Assad regime of Syria has to go.

"The point that we've made all along that it is our view and it is our position that Assad cannot be the leader of Syria in the future and that he must step aside," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters at his daily news conference.

"That is the view of the Syrian people as well. We have also made clear that the decisions about how that transition takes place and who participates in it is something for the Syrian people to decide," he said.

Carney said the Geneva Communiqué framework is the best way to find a durable solution to the Syrian crisis and should be the road map by which the international community and the Syrian people work to hasten an end to the conflict through a political transition to a democratic, unified and inclusive post-Assad Syria.

"We have been and continue to provide and step up aid to the Syrian people, humanitarian aid as well as assistance to the Syrian opposition and the Supreme Military Council, that's part of the opposition, non-lethal aid. But we have stepped that up, and I think you've seen an increasing level of assistance. So these are separate but related tracks that we're pursuing at the same time," he said.

Responding to a question, Carney said lethal weapons remain an option in that trajectory of aid to the military.

"They do in the sense that every option remains on the table. Even prior to the last couple of weeks when we had the questions about possible chemical weapons use in Syria, I have made clear and others have made clear that we are constantly reviewing our options on Syria, including the question of providing lethal aid thus far," he said.

PTI